Happy-Go-Lucky (Leigh, 2008) may be a bit of a litmus test. Do you fully embrace the character of Poppy and her sensibilities. Do you gradually warm to her, or does she make you want to run for the hills? Luckily for me, because he knows me, Cole told me in advance that nothing truly terrible was going to happen to Poppy. So, going in, I could relax and find myself falling into her rhythm, and think about how she has built her world, developed and nurtured her friendships, and made her way through life in exactly the manner she intends. Above all things, she is a listener, and so I think it best to give her the same due she gives to everyone around her. Whether this is your first or tenth viewing, I hope Poppy is a beacon of gentle hope that affirms how a positive approach and outlook can be fulfilling. Not that she’s a fool. I think that’s the best part of how the character was created (credit Mike Leigh’s amazing process and how Sally Hawkins was obviously made for this role). Even when challenged with the personification of ignorant and uncontrolled rage in the form of her driving instructor Scott, played by Eddie Marsan, Poppy manages gracefully to continue to listen, and to try to help. Because, as she says, there’s no harm in trying.

What you’ll find in this episode: how this film marks a visual and technical departure for Mike Leigh, whether some critical assessments of the film are founded or unfounded, and the rare pleasure of being around someone like Poppy.

– Ericca

Links and Recommendations:
Check out Happy-Go-Lucky on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of About a Boy.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Bleak Moments.
A cringe-worthy interview with Mike Leigh about the film.
Mike Leigh visits the Criterion Closet.

2 comments on The Magic Lantern: Episode 095 – Happy-Go-Lucky

  1. Jay MacIntyre says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed your comments on this one. I think it’s a misunderstood film. People say they can’t stand Poppy. I think she represents an extreme (but realistic) example of a certain outlook, while Scott is at the opposite end. To me, the ending is tough for Poppy because she is forced to accept the reality that she won’t ever reach certain people. The world is made up of people on both sides, and it’s just the way it is.

  2. Cole Roulain says:

    Yes, having to confront and accept that is probably one of the most painful feelings a character like Poppy would ever have to experience. Good thing for us that she doesn’t let it dissuade her. Thanks, as always, for listening! We always appreciate your insight!

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