Films & Schedules

  • Happy-Go-Lucky

  • Mike Leigh

United Kingdom
118 minutes

Production Company:
Potboiler Productions/Summit Entertainment
Executive Producer:
Gail Egan, David Garrett, Tessa Ross
Simon Channing-Williams
Mike Leigh
Production Designer:
Mark Tildesley
Dick Pope
Jim Clark
Tim Fraser
Gary Yershon
Principal Cast: Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan

Canadian Distributor:
Maple Pictures
US Distributor:
Miramax Films
International Sales Agent:
Summit Entertainment

Monday September 0807:00PM ISABEL BADER THEATRE Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
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Mike Leigh returns to his comedic roots in the delightful Happy-Go-Lucky. This latest work is a distinct change of pace after his critically acclaimed 2004 film Vera Drake, and it shows the sheer versatility of one of the cinema's master filmmakers. With the aid of a vibrant ensemble cast, innovative photography (by frequent Leigh collaborator Dick Pope), deft direction and a genuinely witty script, Happy-Go-Lucky is a vastly appealing comedy about life, love and knowing how to have fun.

Poppy (Sally Hawkins, well regarded for her small roles in Vera Drake and All or Nothing) is a flamboyant, free-spirited elementary school teacher. As she rides her bicycle through the streets of central London, she gaily smiles and waves at acquaintances and strangers alike. After leaving a local bookshop and returning to where she had chained her bike, she discovers that it has been stolen. This sad turn of events does not upset the agreeable Poppy, however, who at first simply thinks, “I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye.” Rather than replace the stolen bicycle, Poppy decides to take driving lessons from the Axle “good driving is no accident” School of Motoring. There she meets Scott, her hypersensitive driving instructor. As she continues to see Scott for lessons, he becomes increasingly irritated yet equally infatuated by her bubbly, laissez-faire attitude, at one point angrily accusing her of being a flirt. Meanwhile, Poppy also meets Tim, a social worker from the school system who, by contrast, fully appreciates her effervescent attitude.

Leigh and his cast canter through the ins and outs of this classic threesome. The extroverted Poppy and introverted Scott are seemingly like fire and water, constantly at each other's throats. And then there is Tim, the other corner of the triangle. Who will win out? There is a part of Poppy in each of us, urging us to laugh out loud, even during many of life's terribly unfunny moments. Leigh's good-natured comic spirit successfully steers us through Happy-Go-Lucky's light and dark moments, shaping Poppy into one of his most memorable creations.

Piers Handling

Mike Leigh was born in Salford, Lancashire, and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Camberwell, the Central Art Schools in London, and the London Film School. He has been making films for over thirty-five years. His filmography includes Bleak Moments (71), High Hopes (88), Life Is Sweet (91), Naked (93), Secrets and Lies (96), Career Girls (97), Topsy-Turvy (99), All or Nothing (02), Vera Drake (04) and Happy-Go-Lucky (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award