Emotional Intensity in the films of Mike Leigh

We watched Mike Leigh’s newest film “Another Year” and then last night watched “High Hopes”, and I realized how many of his movies I’ve seen without trying to be complete-ist, and how much each of them sticks with me long after I’ve seen them. “Happy Go Lucky”, “Secrets and Lies”

The thing all these movies have in common, and the thing that can make them hard to watch sometimes, is that there’s always one or more characters who are emotional open wounds. It’s not that their performances are broad or that they chew the scenery, they’re just characters that seem to have crashed on the rocks of their lives, and live with an existential horror of how disappointing, lonely and sad their lives have been. No one else is able to find and present these characters.

But for anyone who’s seen “High Hopes”, I was struct by the next door neighbors of the old woman at the center of the story. It’s a married couple — Rupert & Laeticia Boothe-Brain (what names!) who are insufferable upper class twits. The weird thing about them is how much they sound and act like the characters Raymond & Connie Marble in “Pink Flamingos”. I’m sure Leigh at that point had seen Waters’ films, but could there be a conscious homage going on?

It would be very funny if the upper class twits in Thatcher’s England were modeled on a couple who compete to be the filthiest people alive.

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