A free-spirited, friendly schoolteacher tries her hardest to be kind and connect with everyone she meets, but it often gets her into trouble.
Written and Directed by Mike Leigh
Starring Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman,
Kate O'Flynn, Sinead Matthews, Samuel Roukin
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Screenplay
I've noticed that a great deal of dramedys don't have much of a story. They tend to follow one specific character through their day-to-day life, as they interact with significant characters along their emotional or spiritual journey. Happy-Go-Lucky is no exception, but thanks to the light, bouncy performance of Sally Hawkins, you hardly even notice the film doesn't go anywhere. She singlehandedly keeps this film alive, and without her it collapses. There are few characters in pop culture as infectiously nice as Poppy, and it's hard not to smile while watching her interact with everyone she encounters.
We follow Poppy (Hawkins) as she navigates life as a single, North London schoolteacher trying to learn to drive. Her instructor, Scott (Marsan), is a hotheaded, dangerous, conspiracy theorist who is openly stalking her because he thinks she's coming onto him. This particular story does not end the way it should've. After he assaults her and screams at her for coming onto him and not putting out, she apologizes to him for leading him on. That's pretty fucked up and does a lot to ruin that whole plotline. It's also the plotline that most of the film is devoted to.
Happy-Go-Lucky is an enjoyable film for the most part. Sally Hawkins is a joy to watch, but the supporting cast are all pretty forgettable and the screenplay is nothing special. I don't know why it was up for an Oscar. After two hours, it does feel like nobody learned anything or anybody changed. Poppy, despite an assault, doesn't learn that sometimes trying to please everyone can result in something bad. Also, we never get to find out if that angry kid was going to be okay. Decent film, but more than a few loose ends.