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Vera Drake (2004)

tomatometer

92

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 157
Fresh: 144 | Rotten: 13

With a piercingly powerful performance by Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake brings teeming humanity to the controversial subject of abortion.

88

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 42
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 5

With a piercingly powerful performance by Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake brings teeming humanity to the controversial subject of abortion.

audience

84

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 11,259

My Rating

Movie Info

Written and directed by Academy Award-nominee Mike Leigh and set in England during the 1950s, this movie revolves around Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton), whose unrelenting dedication to her family is well known throughout her blue-collar town. However, there are more people than her rapidly aging mother and ill neighbor who depend on Vera's care. Though abortion was illegal and, of course, widely frowned upon in the '50s, Vera sees women going through unwanted pregnancies the same as she would

R,

Drama

Mike Leigh

Mar 29, 2005

$3.6M

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All Critics (166) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (144) | Rotten (13) | DVD (19)

With Vera Drake, [Leigh] has made his most controversial and accessible work

January 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

All the actors so completely fade away that you come out of the film thinking you've seen the real people, not players reciting a script.

November 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[The movie] can break your heart.

November 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Vera Drake makes a compelling argument for women's rights without ever succumbing to preachiness.

October 29, 2004 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Staunton is brilliant as Vera.

October 29, 2004
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Comes close to ranking with [Leigh's] best work, the searing Naked and the witty Topsy Turvy.

October 29, 2004
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The heroine of Mike Leigh's wonderfully subtle and relentlessly harrowing new film is a cheerful, compactly built middle-aged woman who spends her waking hours in perpetual motion.

November 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

In a hopelessly polarized debate, Leigh allows us to see real people involved in real situations. The film will keep people on either side of the abortion debates talking.

November 10, 2006
Christianity Today

Word "great" doesn't do justice to what Imelda Staunton delivers with her performance.

November 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Draxblog Movie Reviews

Staunton lends the role of Vera a great emotional complexity, eschewing any facile moral response to the social and sexual issues at the heart of the film.

June 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Imelda Staunton delivers an indelible performance as a woman with a frighteningly simplistic idea of the world and how to live in it.

June 20, 2005 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

Moralmente complexo, está longe de representar uma experiência 'satisfatória' para o espectador, que sairá emocionalmente esgotado do cinema. Isto o engrandece ainda mais.

May 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

La película confirma a Mike Leigh como uno de los mejores representantes del cine británico, y a Imelda Staunton como una de sus mejores actrices.

May 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Puts a tender human face on this explosive subject.

May 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Vera Drake succeeds because Leigh is not interested in sloganeering but in looking at the human and moral cost.

April 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Despite an occasionally hampering pace, Vera Drake is worth [it] because of its impeccably conceived and acted characters and the moral quagmire they present us with.

April 5, 2005 Full Review Source: european-films.net
european-films.net

Imelda Staunton, a noted British stage actress, gives the best performance of any actress I have seen in the last few years.

March 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

There are few topics that generate more controversy than abortion, yet Mike Leigh's film seems wholly uninterested in courting debate.

March 27, 2005 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You | Comments (2)
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Leigh takes time to show us the daily lives of all characters, giving them more reality than a Hollywood film would think necessary.

March 11, 2005 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Observer

For those of us who remember when abortions were done with coat hangers and knitting needles ... Vera Drake recalls this era with matter-of-fact directness.

March 10, 2005 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

[A]bout nothing if not how the realities of women's lives don't always intersect with men's... understanding of reality.

February 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Great acting, but low on drama because of its lack of suspense and avoidance of the toughest moral issues in the abortion debate.

February 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Repugnant and morally despisable; and I'm pro-choice.

February 5, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Snobs
Film Snobs

A brilliant character study within a detailed snapshot of a moment in English history and society, a perfectly realized environment that makes you forget this is a filmed artifice populated with actors.

February 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

I'd rather have my heroes less than super, more engaged with the larger world.

February 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

With its outstanding, soul-baring central performance by Imelda Stauntan, it's a memorable film that painstakingly creates a truthful and often painful reality.

February 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Vera Drake

A captivating, impromptu film, directed by Mike Leigh, who takes chances and weaves together a narrative about the lives of the downtrodden working Irish families of the fifties, in this film headed by a woman with a plethora of secrets. Mike Leigh did not write a screenplay for this film, but had most of the actors find their own characters, and then wrote everything around that. The scenes were improvised, and the emotions onscreen, however searing and real, were that of the moment, of the actual characters in their element. Therefore, this is an actor's film, one that is always bursting with the presence of Vera Drake (Staunton). There is a slow, deep resonance of the character of Vera Drake, who though is the main focus of the film isn't always the main priority. There is a whole subset of characters, including the daughter and son, their in-laws, and friends, besides these girls who are actually in trouble. There is also a slight undertone about the history of Ireland, including a women's right to choose, and the illegal means to which women took care of it at the time. More importantly are the implications to Vera's actions, the way it reflects on her family and her role in the community. Though at first I didn't understand the role of the plot in the last hour, it flowed that way to build tension between the family members. When the family hears about Vera's crimes it was the first time for the actors too, and it was genuine and gritty and hopeless all at the same time. Imelda Staunton, who has mostly been pigeonholed into the supporting character actor category so many times before, inexplicably shines. Vera Drake is an amazing character, so filled with a depth and personal tension that comes off her in waves, so much a martyr in many respects and yet she does unspeakable things in her religion and society. She is the epitome of pious maternal instincts and mousy womanhood. It's even hard to watch in certain places, and that all comes from Staunton's grace and serenity in the face of adversity. Beautiful, contextual film that is also a great period piece.
May 18, 2012
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

In this film Mike Leigh gives us a powerful story of a true working class hero that is at once an indictment and an endorsement of the stereotypical British stiff upper lip. As a whole, the film isn't up to the captivating performance of Imelda Staunton in the title role - it slips into dull and bleak domestic drama from time to time and it moves rather slowly, but Leigh never wastes a shot, and the action picks up in the last hour before the film reaches its stirring conclusion. Worth seeing once.
December 3, 2010
danperry17

Super Reviewer

Mike Leigh back on form! Great film with superb acting!
September 29, 2009
SirPant

Super Reviewer

This is a little slow to begin with but soon you will find that Imelda Staunton who plays Vera Drake Captures your heart and you can't shut it off, her acting was beyond the best. When the law comes to question Vera and then all the scenes from there on out, you just have to see to beleive. I would say you need to rent this today. 4 1/2 stars SEE IT NOW
March 4, 2009
bbcfloridabound
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

    1. Mrs. Wells: You are looking very flat chested. Have you lost weight?
    – Submitted by Nina P (20 months ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • El secreto de Vera Drake (ES)
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