Starring Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, and Alexis Zegerman
Directed by Mike Leigh (Vera Drake)
Rated R for language
Appropriate for ages 15+
Pauline “Poppy” Cross (Hawkins) is perhaps the happiest person to walk the face of the earth. No matter what happens to her or what people think of her, she has a natural smile, a funny anecdote, and a good attitude. Someone steals her bicycle early in the film and her comment is “I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.” Nothing makes her angry and she only wants to help everyone around her, whether she knows them or not.
What I found most interesting about Poppy is that she may be happy, nice, and pleasant, but she is far from simple. Hollywood might have made her into a dim-wit, but British writer/director Mike Leigh made her very smart. You can really see the wheels turning throughout. And while her brain/mouth filter isn’t always functioning correctly, she definitely knows how to turn it on when it is needed. I really thought I might really grow tired of her quickly, but by the end I had nothing but admiration.
Notice I didn’t say anything about the plot of the film yet. That’s because there really isn’t one. What the film lacks in story, though, is more than made up for in a fascinating character study. The lack of a story here would usually bug me, but because of Hawkins terrific performance, I didn’t really mind. I do think Leigh could have fit this character into an actual tale that revolves around more than just a series of driving lessons, but even without this typical movie ingredient, Happy-Go-Lucky still provides for a very entertaining film-going experience. B-