Vera Drake

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 49 out of 54
  2. Negative: 4 out of 54
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  1. Oct 21, 2014
    10
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  2. [Anonymous]
    Nov 27, 2004
    6
    Had some nice moments, but ultimately didn't leave me feeling too involved. Expected to love it.
  3. PeterA.
    Oct 17, 2004
    8
    VERA DRAKE is a movie for people who like to watch great acting. Being able to see a whole world of subtext based on the actor's face and not their lines is something this movie really delivers. Leigh (as usual) surrounds himself with tremendous actors and lets the camera linger as long (or longer) than necessary. I do agree with critics regarding Vera's arrest--I would have VERA DRAKE is a movie for people who like to watch great acting. Being able to see a whole world of subtext based on the actor's face and not their lines is something this movie really delivers. Leigh (as usual) surrounds himself with tremendous actors and lets the camera linger as long (or longer) than necessary. I do agree with critics regarding Vera's arrest--I would have liked to have seen her stand up for her convictions and not simply show her looking pained all the time. But all in all a very well done movie. Expand
  4. JavierE.
    Jan 21, 2005
    9
    Amazing performance, yo u want to see more and more, One of the best film in the last months.
  5. SamJ.
    Jan 20, 2005
    10
    An astonishing drama with a towering performance by Imelda Staunton who deserves the Oscar more than either Swant or Bening. This is one of Leigh's great films.
  6. Shootsy
    Feb 3, 2005
    1
    A joyful abortionist helper turned all of a sudden into a whining retard. Best help from her would have been to abort this flat boring movie.
  7. ChadK
    Apr 22, 2005
    9
    Fantastic character driven film, in typical Mike Leigh fashion. Strong perfomances from the entire cast. The film is also a good historical account of how our views evolve as time goes on. My only problem with Vera Drakes character was how in the beginning such an apparently strong, confident woman could turn into such a sobing mess as the end.
  8. Gregm
    Apr 4, 2005
    8
    That was a gritty, dark and dour British period piece about an abortionist, with a heart of gold. Imelda Staunton and all of the cast were terrific and at one point, I said to the person watching this movie with me - "It almost seems like we are eavesdropping on their lives. It seems so real". The ironic part is that laws change and people who are convicted of crimes at one time are That was a gritty, dark and dour British period piece about an abortionist, with a heart of gold. Imelda Staunton and all of the cast were terrific and at one point, I said to the person watching this movie with me - "It almost seems like we are eavesdropping on their lives. It seems so real". The ironic part is that laws change and people who are convicted of crimes at one time are innocent in another era. Now, if you want an abortion, you take the "morning after" pill. Vera Drake would not have been convicted in the year 2005. Expand
  9. armandos.
    Apr 6, 2005
    10
    A better movie than the manipulative MILLION DOLLAR BABY. Imelda Staunton should have won the Oscar, but her role was too contoversial for the timid Oscar voters. A film that challenges your preconceptions and opens your eyes. Highly recommended.
  10. RolandD.
    May 26, 2005
    2
    This is a truly dreadful film. Mike Leigh develops his screenplays through a lengthy process of improvisation where the characters and stories are created (the films themselves are not improvised). What this means is that the narratives depend on the chemistry and dynamics of performance. At is best the results can be sublime (such as in
  11. NCoste
    Nov 12, 2004
    7
    Excellent story about a working class family early (though Vera has too much "a heart of gold" as one character states) but movie slows to a crawl after she gets arrested. After that her quiet acting during this crisis may be moving to some, but to me it became almost boring as nothing new or unexpected happened.
  12. miker.
    Jan 22, 2005
    6
    I agree with one of the other raters. The film left me uninvolved. For me Staunton's performance was agonizingly slow. I wanted to rip the words out of her mouth. You will also see more doors opened in this film, then you will see in another hundred. Maybe it's supposed to mean something on a deeper level.
  13. AlbertR.
    Jan 22, 2005
    6
    The first two-thirds of this movie was well-done, establishing Vera as a strong, selfless helper of others of her class. She may be too good to be true, but I found her believable. Trouble comes in the last third after she is arrested. From then on she is a blubbering, weak, pathetic, guilt-ridden, shamefaced figure, someone to feel sorrry for. This drains away the respect for her The first two-thirds of this movie was well-done, establishing Vera as a strong, selfless helper of others of her class. She may be too good to be true, but I found her believable. Trouble comes in the last third after she is arrested. From then on she is a blubbering, weak, pathetic, guilt-ridden, shamefaced figure, someone to feel sorrry for. This drains away the respect for her strength and courage--it seems to negate it. I found this deeply dissapointing. I expected some sign of resistance to the police and the courts, some indication of pride, but there was none. I was grateful for the late scene of Vera in prison talking to two other verteran abortionists. It raises the possibility that she might continue helping women end unwanted pregnancies when she's released. But it was not enough to erase her pathetic fall. Expand
  14. HelenD
    Mar 13, 2005
    10
    Mind-blowing. Outstanding performances by entire cast. One of the most powerful films I've ever seen.
  15. DavidP.
    Aug 12, 2005
    10
    Authentic and powerful.
  16. MarkB.
    Nov 9, 2004
    9
    Film history is loaded with instances of foreign filmmakers who seem to know America better than most Americans do. Vera Drake, written and directed by the great Mike Leigh, isn't set in the U.S. at all; it takes place in economically pummeled, postwar working-class England, and yet it could be the film that begins to unite red and blue states reeling from one of the most polarizing Film history is loaded with instances of foreign filmmakers who seem to know America better than most Americans do. Vera Drake, written and directed by the great Mike Leigh, isn't set in the U.S. at all; it takes place in economically pummeled, postwar working-class England, and yet it could be the film that begins to unite red and blue states reeling from one of the most polarizing elections in post memory (including 2000) in honest and intelligent conversation, if not necessarily consensus. For the first time since his mammothly entertaining Gilbert and Sullivan story Topsy-Turvy, Leigh sets his film in the past (and happily avoids the near-self-parody of his most recent effort, All or Nothing); he tells the story of a sweet, almost saintly past-middle-aged charwoman (the sublime Imelda Staunton) who, unbeknownst to her loving family, performs abortions for poor young women with few or no apparent other options. Of course, in that time and place, "procedure" and "operation" are the preferred euphemisms; I was surprised and slightly amused to hear the "a-word" (or a form of it) used more frequently in the dialogue of Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles. (Completely and totally different context, of course; don't worry, parents!) Leigh's narrative seems extremely leisurely, but don't be fooled; he takes his time detailing Vera's family and their relationships to one another so that when the hammer finally drops, you feel the pain in all its reverberations. This is no Cider House Rules; Leigh absolutely refuses to be didactic or polemical in the manner of fellow Brit kitchen-sink filmmaker Ken Loach; nothing against Loach, but Leigh's generosity to nearly all his characters is far more challenging here. Vera's arrest and legal difficulties are absolutely harrowing and horrifying for Vera, but it's important to note that the police do their job with compassion and more than a little reluctance; I particularly loved a policewoman who treats Vera with exceptional kindness under the circumstances. Much of the time, those folks (on both sides of a given spectrum) who clamor for "balanced" treatment of controversial topics aren't really seeking evenhandedness; they want the scales heavily weighted in favor of their side. Vera Drake, in letting the story, characters and setting speak for themselves, will undoubtedly speak to far more social conservatives on the subject (those who see it, anyway) than a thousand Michael Moore or Robert Greenwald documentaries could ever hope to. Put it this way: I just can't picture the viewers on either side of the abortion issue, including deeply religious people who absolutely believe in their hear of hearts that abortion is utterly and totally wrong, NOT desperately hoping and praying for the unquestionably well-intentioned title character to get every mercy that the court is able to give. Expand
  17. MarkB.
    Nov 9, 2004
    9
    Film history is loaded with instances of foreign filmmakers who seem to know America better than most Americans do. Vera Drake, written and directed by the great Mike Leigh, isn't set in the U.S. at all; it takes place in economically pummeled, postwar working-class England, and yet it could be the film that begins to unite red and blue states reeling from one of the most polarizing Film history is loaded with instances of foreign filmmakers who seem to know America better than most Americans do. Vera Drake, written and directed by the great Mike Leigh, isn't set in the U.S. at all; it takes place in economically pummeled, postwar working-class England, and yet it could be the film that begins to unite red and blue states reeling from one of the most polarizing elections in post memory (including 2000) in honest and intelligent conversation, if not necessarily consensus. For the first time since his mammothly entertaining Gilbert and Sullivan story Topsy-Turvy, Leigh sets his film in the past (and happily avoids the near-self-parody of his most recent effort, All or Nothing); he tells the story of a sweet, almost saintly past-middle-aged charwoman (the sublime Imelda Staunton) who, unbeknownst to her loving family, performs abortions for poor young women with few or no apparent other options. Of course, in that time and place, "procedure" and "operation" are the preferred euphemisms; I was surprised and slightly amused to hear the "a-word" (or a form of it) used more frequently in the dialogue of Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles. (Completely and totally different context, of course; don't worry, parents!) Leigh's narrative seems extremely leisurely, but don't be fooled; he takes his time detailing Vera's family and their relationships to one another so that when the hammer finally drops, you feel the pain in all its reverberations. This is no Cider House Rules; Leigh absolutely refuses to be didactic or polemical in the manner of fellow Brit kitchen-sink filmmaker Ken Loach; nothing against Loach, but Leigh's generosity to nearly all his characters is far more challenging here. Vera's arrest and legal difficulties are absolutely harrowing and horrifying for Vera, but it's important to note that the police do their job with compassion and more than a little reluctance; I particularly loved a policewoman who treats Vera with exceptional kindness under the circumstances. Much of the time, those folks (on both sides of a given spectrum) who clamor for "balanced" treatment of controversial topics aren't really seeking evenhandedness; they want the scales heavily weighted in favor of their side. Vera Drake, in letting the story, characters and setting speak for themselves, will undoubtedly speak to far more social conservatives on the subject (those who see it, anyway) than a thousand Michael Moore or Robert Greenwald documentaries could ever hope to. Put it this way: I just can't picture the viewers on either side of the abortion issue, including deeply religious people who absolutely believe in their hear of hearts that abortion is utterly and totally wrong, NOT desperately hoping and praying for the unquestionably well-intentioned title character to get every mercy that the court is able to give. Expand
  18. DannyG
    Jan 13, 2005
    8
    Staunton is one amazing actress.
  19. ChadS.
    Jan 28, 2005
    8
    There's a shot of Vera Drake inside a theater, her face filled with laughter as she watches the screen, that made me aware about pro-lifers who don't find this woman sympathetic, because in movies about serial killers, this is the kind of scene you get. Vera is just another face in the crowd. You would never guess. "Vera Drake" is an even more interesting film if you distance There's a shot of Vera Drake inside a theater, her face filled with laughter as she watches the screen, that made me aware about pro-lifers who don't find this woman sympathetic, because in movies about serial killers, this is the kind of scene you get. Vera is just another face in the crowd. You would never guess. "Vera Drake" is an even more interesting film if you distance yourself from your sense of ethics. Expand
  20. JeffL.
    Feb 21, 2005
    9
    Wrenching kitchen-sink drama from Britain's great Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy) about a sweet, good-hearted, middle-aged lady in 1950 London (Imelda Staunton, amazing in the title role) who helps out women who find themselves in a "family way" by performing illegal abortions. Vera is soft-spoken, altruistic, and kind, never passing judgment on her clients or taking a dime Wrenching kitchen-sink drama from Britain's great Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy) about a sweet, good-hearted, middle-aged lady in 1950 London (Imelda Staunton, amazing in the title role) who helps out women who find themselves in a "family way" by performing illegal abortions. Vera is soft-spoken, altruistic, and kind, never passing judgment on her clients or taking a dime for her services. By contrast, the legal abortions available at the time are shown as a humiliating nightmare of probing personal questions, useless psychological testing, and financial expense. When one of Vera's procedures goes awry and the law closes in on her, the film becomes both a powerful suspense film and a heartbreaking family drama as Vera must reluctantly but inevitably tell her husband (the excellent Phil Davis) and family just why she is in trouble. Veteran character actress Staunton (Bright Young Things, Shakespeare in Love) gives a brave, quiet, revelatory performance that propelled her to numerous international Best Actress awards and nominations (most recently, an Oscar nomination.) The supporting performances are also uniformly fine (including the wonderful Jim Broadbent in a small part as a judge) in this gritty, provocative, and moving work from one of our finest filmmakers. Expand
  21. BenjaminA
    Mar 28, 2005
    6
    Not THAT good.
  22. AndyG.
    Mar 31, 2005
    10
    A heart-breaking but wonderfully told story of a woman who gets in trouble because of her compassion and desire to help, - and a poignant picture of a tight-knit British working class family of the 50s. Acting and direction are perfect.
  23. CesarB.
    May 31, 2005
    10
    Wish I could give it an eleven. Best mainstream film of '04. Performances are stunning all around. Production tight. See it now.
  24. HC.
    Mar 13, 2007
    5
    I agree almost word for word with the reviewer "Roland D." I did think the first half was quite good so I'm giving it a 5, but really the second half just dies on-screen. The realization that Leigh isn't really taking us anywhere is such a disappointment that it really tarnishes the acting and makes it seem sort of masturbatory --really, I bet it's an actors wet dream to be I agree almost word for word with the reviewer "Roland D." I did think the first half was quite good so I'm giving it a 5, but really the second half just dies on-screen. The realization that Leigh isn't really taking us anywhere is such a disappointment that it really tarnishes the acting and makes it seem sort of masturbatory --really, I bet it's an actors wet dream to be in a Mike Leigh film. But the acting should be in service of something more than just the acting itself (i.e. plot/story/anything). Expand
  25. PeterI.
    Dec 24, 2004
    10
    One of Leigh's greatest in years. The film presents the issue in such a light as to force the viewer to review his or her own beliefs.
  26. BarryR.
    Dec 25, 2004
    9
    "Vera Drake" is one of those movies that just seems to grab you and keep you in its grips until the very end. Starring Imelda Staunton, this film was written and directed by Mike Leigh who does a superlative job in both categories. But the film wouldn't be half as good as it is without the expertise and talent of Ms. Staunton who represents goodness and caring in a world that is "Vera Drake" is one of those movies that just seems to grab you and keep you in its grips until the very end. Starring Imelda Staunton, this film was written and directed by Mike Leigh who does a superlative job in both categories. But the film wouldn't be half as good as it is without the expertise and talent of Ms. Staunton who represents goodness and caring in a world that is filled with labels and rigidity. 125 minutes of precious film viewing brings to the screen the story of this lady whose only crime is trying to help others, sometimes to the chagrin and anger of the society in which she lives. Told in the atmosphere and mores of post-war 1950 Great Britain, this picture should certainly earn award nominations for both Imelda Staunton and Mike Leigh. The picture gets a 9 with the sincere hope that you don't miss it. It's at selected theaters so seek it out. You'll be glad you did. Expand
  27. Oct 14, 2011
    9
    A beautiful film with a original and interesting story, with a brilliant performance of Imelda Stauton, a moving film, one of the best movies of 2004.
Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Ray Bennett
    80
    It's difficult to think of another recent film so seamlessly rendered or that envelops an audience so completely in its period authenticity.
  2. 80
    Marvellous, though it is smaller in emotional range than such earlier Mike Leigh films as the goofy bourgeois satire "High Hopes" (1988), the candid and piercing "Secrets & Lies" (1996), and the splendid theatrical spectacle "Topsy-Turvy" (1999).
  3. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    100
    Mike Leigh is at the peak of his powers with Vera Drake, a compassionate, morally complex drama that stands easily alongside his best work, "Secrets & Lies" and "Topsy-Turvy."