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Mike Leigh has made a career out of unusual films--who else would make a biopic about Gilbert & Sullivan?--but Happy-Go-Lucky may be his most unusual yet: A movie about a woman who is almost compulsively cheerful. Poppy (Sally Hawkins, star of the 2007 miniseries of Persuasion) may at first seem like the most annoying human being alive. She can't help but try to get a smile from someone who's ignoring her. When her bicycle gets stolen, she shrugs it off and decides to learn how to drive, which leads her to form a strange sparring relationship with her frustrated driving instructor, Scott (Eddie Marsan). Meanwhile, she takes flamenco lessons, visits with her squabbling family, tries to help a troubled boy at the school where she teaches, and encounters a homeless man--but this bland catalogue of events doesn't capture how Poppy's relentless optimism acts as a rorschach test to the people around her, reflecting back their worst or best feelings about themselves. Poppy, whose natural impulse is to empathize, discovers she needs to draw boundaries between herself and a world that wants to interpret her cheerfulness in unintended ways. The result is a unique movie experience, one that defies conventional notions of what's dramatic yet grows more absorbing with every moment. Just as it's hard to imagine anyone liking Poppy at the start of Happy-Go-Lucky, it's hard to imagine that anyone doesn't care about her by the movie's end. --Bret Fetzer
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
So when I rented "Happy-Go-Lucky" I was thrilled to see a movie character whose attitude toward life seemed to be based on some of the ideas I have been learning. And Sally Hawkins, as Poppy, does it so beautifully! The supporting cast is just as brilliant, from Eddie Marsan as Scott (the perfect foil!), to flatmate Zoe (Alexis Zegerman), to sisters Suzy and Helen (Kate O'Flynn and Caroline Martin).
What a breath of fresh air to see Poppy living gratefully, joyfully, in-the-moment. I watched the movie twice before returning it to the rental store, then immediately ordered it on Amazon. I felt I just had have this example of living life good-humoredly, and realizing that happiness is a choice. I wanted to have it on hand whenever I need the reminder.
A word to those who can't wrap their minds around the concept that the best way to have a lovely life is to choose to be happy always, this movie will just annoy you. But if you are willing to see what might come of responding to life gratefully and joyously at every turn, this movie is a sweet example.
The main character if FULL OF JOY for living. What is the point of life if there is NO JOY??? Honestly, I keep reading these negative reviews and they're so superficial. Forgive me, but that's how I feel. Every scene and every character has a reason for being the way it is. Trust me on this one. Just open your minds. Please. And remember this...it's a M O V I E. Seriously. Some people need to lighten up and drop the BS. Mike Leigh wrote and directed one of his best films here, and all some people can say is, "The main character is so annoying". Wow. How sad. Once you have THAT in your head, the rest of the movie will not make any sense. Word.