Mike Leigh has a sharp eye for people and their foibles. Much of his work deflates the pompous windbags, socially important, but mostly unimportant, who dwell in contemporary England.
The heart of the story is an older, widow lady, barely getting by in her council flat in London. Her condition and home are items from a kinder, more generous past when a social safety net was built after WWII. It is now under a ferocious assault by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The widow's socialist son and his partner struggle on, surviving in low paying jobs. They make an effort to look in and care for the old lady. Her yuppy next door neighbors bought their home when all low rent housing was put up for sale. They are disgusted that the widow will not paint or refurbish her rental property. Her vacuous daughter is so busy climbing the social ladder by spending her husband's money that she has no time for her mother. Her husband is an odious businessman who allows his wife to create the facade at home while he has a bit of stuff on the side.
None of the characters are perfect or really nice. That is how Mike Leigh sees life.