High Hopes

  • 1988
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Comedy, Drama

Mike Leigh's funny and deeply touching HIGH HOPES is yet another inventive cinematic reaction to Margaret Thatcher's overhaul of British society. Employing an episodic structure and a semi-improvisational approach, Leigh (BLEAK MOMENTS) presents three couples and an elderly woman as a microcosm of modern-day Britain. Cyril (Philip Davis), a 35-year-old...read more

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Mike Leigh's funny and deeply touching HIGH HOPES is yet another inventive cinematic reaction to Margaret Thatcher's overhaul of British society. Employing an episodic structure and a semi-improvisational approach, Leigh (BLEAK MOMENTS) presents three couples and an elderly woman as a

microcosm of modern-day Britain.

Cyril (Philip Davis), a 35-year-old motorcycle messenger, and Shirley (Ruth Sheen), his companion of ten years, are children of the working class who have embraced a countercultural lifestyle that once included a passionate faith in revolutionary ideology. Although they can't agree to have a child

of their own, they spend plenty of time parenting Davis's aging mother (Dore), who lives in the last council-owned house on a gentrified street, where an impossibly snooty yuppie couple, the Boothe-Braines (Lesley Manville and David Bamber), are her neighbors. Rounding out the cast are Cyril's

shrill, nouveau riche sister (Heather Tobias) and her philandering used-car-salesman husband (Philip Jackson). Alternately silly, serious, and poignant, HIGH HOPES uses its players as political symbols, without subordinating character to the demands of allegory... well, almost.

Leigh's approach is most realistic when dealing with Cyril's mother, Cyril, and Shirley, and the bedtime conversations between the last two are certainly among cinema's most privileged moments. Because of the care Leigh takes with these three characters, HIGH HOPES is not just an indictment of

Thatcher-engendered inequity; it is also a survival primer for those who have lost faith in the Left's traditional grand solutions yet refused to succumb to "compassion fatigue."

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  • Released: 1988
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Mike Leigh's funny and deeply touching HIGH HOPES is yet another inventive cinematic reaction to Margaret Thatcher's overhaul of British society. Employing an episodic structure and a semi-improvisational approach, Leigh (BLEAK MOMENTS) presents three coup… (more)

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