- Rated: Unrated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 49 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: June 23, 2009
- Originally Released: 1989
- Label: BFS Entertainment
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
Performers, Cast and Crew:
New York Times - 12/24/1989
Included in the New York Times "10 Best Films of 1989"
New York Times - 09/24/1988
"...HIGH HOPES manages to be enjoyably whimsical without ever losing its cutting edge....[Sheen] is outstanding..."
Film Comment - 11/01/1988
"...A prankish paper dart sent buzzing around Thatcher's Britain..."
Los Angeles Times - 03/09/1989
"...Small in scale and lingering in impact. It's lovely the first time, even more so the second, when you've got the knack of its rhythms..."
Uncut - 09/01/2007
4 stars out of 5 -- "The film that established Mike Leigh as a cinema director is a slice-of-life comedy..."
Total Film - 10/01/2007
4 stars out of 5 -- "Leigh's leads exude rivers of warmth, matched by plotting that shambles towards a genuinely generous emotional peak."
Sight and Sound - 10/01/2007
"[I]t's an enjoyable ride, full of Leigh's trademark comedy of embarrassment..."
Empire - 09/01/2007
"Leigh's sharp eye for poignant banalities and the skillful intermingling of light and shade keep it real."
Film Comment - 07/01/2009
"Disillusioned but never pessimistic, Leigh's snapshot of Thatcher-era England is a small miracle of interpersonal honesty and political acuity."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Working-class couple Cyril (Philip Davis) and Shirley (Ruth Sheen) becomes obsessed with socialism while Cyril's pretentious sister Valerie (Heather Tobias) contends with her cheating husband in this slice-of-life examination of class barriers in late 1980s London. Edna Doré co-stars as the siblings' forgetful mum in the ensemble dramedy, an early work from director Mike Leigh, whose distinct style relies heavily on actor improvisation.
Another bittersweet comedy from acclaimed director Mike Leigh, HIGH HOPES weaves a wonderful tapestry of hippies and yuppies, fantasy and reality, broken dreams and high hopes. Lampooning every aspect of modern English society, the film is a biting satire with a dry sense of humor. Leigh allows his story to unfold at a realistic pace, granting his actors the time to better express the inner feelings and emotions of his zany cavalcade of characters.
Director Mike Leigh continues his infatuation with the clashes between families and social classes in late twentieth century London with this touching soap opera. HIGH HOPES weaves left-wing social commentary into a bittersweet comedy about a working-class couple, Cyril (Philip Davis) and Shirley (Ruth Sheen). The film opens with the pair taking in Wayne (Jason Watkins), a stranger who appears to have nowhere else to turn. Gradually, it introduces the rest of Cyril's family--his widowed mother Mrs. Bender (Edna Dore), whining suburban sister Valerie (Heather Tobias), and her unfaithful husband Martin (Philip Jackson)--contrasting them with the Boothe-Braines (Lesley Manville and David Bamber), pretentious yuppies who live next door to Mrs. Bender thanks to gentrification. On Mrs. Bender's birthday, a party at Valerie's brings the family together again, sparking another seemingly endless series of arguments. A sometimes bleak satire, HIGH HOPES raises issues about remaining childless and growing old without a partner, containing a poignant blend of comedy and drama that has become a Leigh trademark. Using his typical improvisational approach in order to create more genuine characterizations, Leigh is able to draw deeply convincing performances from all of his actors--most notably, Davis, Sheen, and Dore.
Essential Cinema |
- HIGH HOPES, like most of Mike Leigh's films, was shot on location in and around London.
- One of the film's most poignant scenes was filmed at Karl Marx's grave in London's Highgate Cemetery.
- "I could eat a horse between two mattresses."--Martin (Philip Jackson)