In a variation on the theme of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky is a comedy drama about a 30 year old primary teacher called Poppy who has an undying enthusiasm for life and an unwavering optimism in the face of adversity.
No doubt deliberately, Poppy comes across as a rather irritating and fatuous creature for the opening of the film, her constant chattering and giggling grating on my cynical, world-weary nerves with a vengeance. But the scenes at her work place reveal the roots of her attitude, and upon this discovery it’s very difficult not to warm to her. Basically she sees everyone in the world as one of the children she teaches, and tries to understand how they’ve become what they are; even a tramp who lives in a local back alley and her racist, emotionally stunted driving instructor. Unfortunately Mike Leigh fans expecting another gritty and depressing domestic drama will be disappointed by its comparatively light tone, yet at the same time it’s not quite fluffy or funny enough to appeal to fans of light-hearted romantic comedy.
Certainly worth a look to anyone who enjoys British comedy drama and can keep an open mind, however.