Life Is Sweet Screen 4 articles

Life Is Sweet

1990

Life Is Sweet Poster
  • Seen today, this exuberantly funny film about desperately serious subjects is an undiminished delight, and its razor-sharp satire of consumer culture, political sloganeering, and family-values clichés as timely as ever... He has never cooked up a more flavorsome pièce de résistance than Life Is Sweet, a tangy comedy-drama that ranks with his finest work.

  • Life Is Sweet is the film that gained Leigh global esteem as a major filmmaker, and it's still one of his best—a tough, compassionate study of a British family near the end of the Thatcher regime. The title is a testament to the nuance and ambiguity of Leigh's methods, as it's offered neither in jest nor celebration, but as a statement of hard-won fact that abounds in heartbreaks and mysteries.

  • “Life is Sweet” is almost certainly Mike Leigh’s funniest film, but what’s interesting is that it’s also among his saddest. The broad humor and screwball antics that are its defining feature—think, for instance, of the main set piece involving hopeful restaurateur Aubrey and his disastrous opening night—mask the sense of utter desperation at the heart of the film, a feeling that lingers long after the credits unceremoniously roll.

  • The problem with Leigh's working method, I suspect, is that it's vulnerable to the sunk-cost effect—it'd be pretty rough for him to orchestrate months of intense exploration with an actor and then decide that it just isn't working. Anyway, that's my preferred rationalization for Timothy Spall's performance as Aubrey, which is so broadly cartoonish that it repeatedly threatens to capsize what is otherwise a magnificent family portrait.

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