Directed by Mike Leigh and released theatrically in its home country of the UK in 2005.
Ken Loach and Alan Clarke have always been my favourite British directors but people are always nagging on at me about Mike Leigh. To be fair, I have seen a fair share of Leigh’s works (Career Girls, Happy-Go-Lucky, most notably Secrets and Lies and the splendid masterpieces Meantime and Naked) but I never really had the gall to delve into Leigh’s filmography any deeper. His films mix drama and comedy quite like no other in the way that his films are laced with dry humour despite being drenched in gritty realism and heartbreaking emotion. The film I finally got around to seeing today, Vera Drake, is the absolute perfect example of this.
Incomparable to any of Leigh’s other films, the first half of Vera Drake plays out like a ’50s soap opera with the volume turned way down and the fast forward button stuck… but by the halfway mark as Vera’s life is turned upside down Mike Leigh allows us to regrettably take the tumble with her. Imelda Staunton is a fantastic actress and this is without a doubt her magnum opus. Despite any prejudice any viewer may have with regards to the subject matter, Staunton plays such a warm-hearted character with such dignity.
Like many of Ken Loach’s films, here Leigh clearly takes a stand against the judicial system highlighting the fact that Drake is a woman helping her fellow citizens but still being shunned by a law almost 100 years old. That fact alone still resonates with many people in this country regardless of the subject. An earth-shattering film that undoubtedly needs to be seen.