I’ve never given up on a movie, so I didn’t start here. But I wanted, very badly, to be somewhere else… that is, except for the scenes with Eddie (played by the always brilliant Eddie Marsan). The critical acclaim for this film is astounding and begs the question of, “Who’s paying these people off?” The protagonist, Poppy (Sally Hawkins) isn’t in my opinion what the director implies through the title of his picture, as “Happy-Go-Lucky.” She’s actually more of a… oh darn. I can’t sugar-coat this… – A dump trunk of giggly, jabbering, retardation that leaves you begging that she’d answer at least one question straight. But no, she answers in non sequiturs and flops about the entire movie with no real aim but to stop a child from bullying another (which seemed like only an excuse to bring in hunky, romantic interest social worker, Tim [Samuel Roukin]) and to learn how to drive.
I discovered this film after watching Gangster No. 1 and it’s stunning interrogation scene with Eddie Marsan. I was so impressed with his ability to play the fear oozing “snail” of a man in that film that I immediately looked up some of his other roles. In Happy-Go-Lucky, he plays not-so happy-go-lucky driving instructor, Scott. His character has a temper a mile long and is the polar opposite of Poppy, as he constantly reminds her to wear proper footwear and to watch her mirrors. Of course, each and every demand is returned with giddy chuckles and sassy remarks that only aids in the audiences compulsion to strangle her.
There doesn’t seem to be any real plot and the dialogue is simply trite and hard to chew. But I have to “give it up” to Sally Hawkins for playing, for nearly every scene in the movie, a character that exudes imbecilic happiness. That’d be one monumental task for any good actor and she does it quite naturally. I can’t help but to think of the Friends character of Janice when I look at her garb, and just praise Mike Leigh that he didn’t give her character an obnoxious laugh to-boot.
Another aspect that is hard to place is the precise setting. The girls make mention of “texting,” which is clearly something from this decade… however, there is an awful lot of denim-wearing, colorful leggings, and loopy jewelry that seems to suggest the 1980’s.
There are two scenes that stand out, but only like an irritating herpes sore on the face of this review. What Roger Ebert called a “profoundly effective scene” in which Poppy encounters a nonsense-jabbering homeless man came across to me as a moronic and dangerous attempt to connect with yet another character – but this time to show her empathetic side. What Mike Leigh was trying to create comes up short and only makes me doubt the intelligence of Poppy further. The second scene that I have a problem with is when she takes a flamingo dancing class. She creates a wonderful first impression by not only coming in late (not her fault however) but then by disrupting class the moment the teacher is ready to get started. She half-asses her lesson by making mocking faces and by barely participating in the classes opening stretches. “Happy-Go-Lucky” in this case, just appears to the viewer as an appalling lack of maturity.
Not completely dreadful. Worth seeing the clips with Eddie Marsan in it. The rest… ( shrugs ). Your views?