Wednesday, January 19, 2005

You can't say that watching Vera Drake is an easy night out. Sure there are quite few laughs in the early stages of the film, as we grow to understand the life of a straightforward looking working class family in London, in the early 1950's. Everything seems set for another "life was hard, but look at the simple pleasures they enjoyed" type wander along a happy nostalgic byway.

Of course that is not what we get. The fabric of the family is ripped apart and all they hold dear is shattered, very slowly and painfully as we watch. The performances are beyond exceptional, much has been written about Imelda Staunton and her performance, everything is true. The way she shrinks and crumbles before you, is so brilliantly portrayed that it left me feeling distinctly uncomfortable and voyeuristic. Much of the strength of the later stages of the film comes from the almost oppressive levels of silence. No words or music to distract you, just watching people realise the consequences of what has gone before, it's amazingly powerful stuff.

When the credits started to roll, nobody in the packed auditorium moved for quite a while. A stunned silence fell over the auditorium, a lady behind me joked to her friend that the film had left her feeling depressed and that she wanted a happy ending. Her friend quickly replied, saying the happy ending is that women no longer have to live under those conditions.

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