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March 06, 2017

Movie Club - Happy-Go-Lucky


This month the Movie Club will be screening 'Happy-Go-Lucky'. Written and directed by Mike Leigh, ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ is a character-driven film that follows the protagonist, Poppy, as she experiences some ups and downs in her life. Poppy is a 30-something school teacher living in London. She is optimistic, chirpy and happy all of the time, it is not a superficial act, it is just who Poppy is. Poppy lives with her friend and co-worker, Zoe, who acts as a kind of moral compass in a film that combines extreme optimism with extreme pessimism (in the form of Scott). Scott is a narcissistic driving instructor whom Poppy seeks out for driving lessons.
The film relies on a series of events that slowly reveal the characters of Poppy and Scott. There is no major dramatic plot or action sequence, rather we meander through the everyday life of Poppy: as she goes to work and deals with a problematic student, as she converses with a homeless man, as she takes salsa classes, as she visits her younger sister Helen, as she takes driving lessons with Scott. It is through these sequential shots of Poppy’s life that we build-up a knowledge base that reveals layers of Poppy’s character. Dramatic tension is maintained throughout by the relationship between Poppy and Scott.
 
The film is interesting not only for its character study of Poppy, but also its depiction of gender and stereotypes. Most of the characters in the film are female, except for Scott and Tim. Tim is only a minor character, and Scott is presented as aggressive, impulsive and an unlikeable male. The lead character here is Poppy, the film is Poppy’s film, and there is no male counter-part that she ever needs to rely upon. To add to this, Poppy defies the norms of female happiness; rather than gaining a sense of meaning from a man, children or family, Poppy sources fulfilment from things such as work, flamenco dance classes, trampolining, and friends.
Nominated for an Academy Award, the film is funny and light, yet full of wise lessons and deep emotion.

'Happy-Go-Lucky' will be showing on Wednesday 8 March, 6pm at Narellan Library. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided, BYO snacks are more than welcome. Stay after the screening for a short discussion about the film.

 

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