Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Badly flawed

Content written by Tony Macklin. Originally published on February 16, 2009 on tonymacklin.net.

Happy-Go-Lucky is flibbertigibbet cinema.

Mike Leigh directed Sally Hawkins in this paean to a peahen.

Sally Hawkins plays Sappy -- I mean Poppy. Poppy is a primary school teacher in London; she's on a journey to see the silver lining in everything, but she doesn't know the difference between silver and dross.

So she gushes over everything. She's intrusive and self-serving. She's loud and she's vapid.

I tried to take a snooze, but Poppy kept giggling inanely and braying.

Whether shrieking at a rave, being a live wire at an after-rave party, or clucking with a girlfriend, she never lets up. She even chatters during lovemaking.

She's a human gasoline can spraying herself on every ember she encounters. She pours her giddy gasoline on teachers -- turning a flamenco teacher into a stomper and crier, and turning a cynical driving teacher (Eddie Marsan) into a ranter and rager. Having scorched her path, she blithely walks away.

British director Mike Leigh has tried to create a nice antidote to his downbeat Vera Drake (2004). Sally Hawkins didn't get an Oscar nomination, but she won a Golden Globe award as Best Actress for her ebullient turn.

Hallelujah, Poppycock!

Mike Leigh, let me introduce you to Fran Drescher, Kathy Griffin, and Nancy Grace.

They're your kind of women.

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