As a character study Vera Drake is coarsely drawn, and as pro-choice polemic, it's both a blunt instrument and a red herring.
Even with his film's solid foundation, Leigh seemingly cannot resist the pulpy histrionics.
| Original Score: C+
[T]his can't be called naturalism ... Vera has to represent the bad medicine that fills the gap for low-income women, the bad medicine that results inevitably from bad law.
Despite all his care and realism, Leigh has neglected to provide a fully satisfying drama.
A Mike Leigh mistake.
| Original Score: 2/5
With each whimpering close-up of Vera after her arrest, Leigh comes closer and closer to canonizing her as his Joan of Arc.
It's almost as if a propaganda film made by Planned Parenthood had resurfaced after decades in storage. Timely, it's not.
Repugnant and morally despisable; and I'm pro-choice.
| Original Score: 1.5/5
Susan has served the point Leigh is making about how easy it is for affluent women to get safe abortions (no kidding) and is no longer of use or interest to him.
Leigh and Staunton seem like prisoners of their own plodding naturalism.
Earnest, well-acted and suffocating.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Boo, hiss and all that -- but I can report that the film left me only vaguely depressed and nothing more.
To his credit, director-writer Mike Leigh doesn't inject any moral high ground on a subject that could easily feel one-sided. But he doesn't give Staunton a full range of material to work with either.
A challenge more than worth meeting.
| Original Score: 4/5
With Vera Drake, [Leigh] has made his most controversial and accessible work
| Original Score: 5/5
I'd rather have my heroes less than super, more engaged with the larger world.
| Original Score: A-
A film of pitch-perfect, seemingly effortless performances.
| Original Score: 4/4
For those who have the patience to become absorbed in this kind of drama, Vera Drake offers a stunningly real character portrait whose image will linger long after the movie has faded.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
[The movie] can break your heart.
The film feels full and alive, and a best-actress Oscar nomination for Staunton would be a justified award for the achievement.
| Original Score: 3/4
An exceptional breadth of context and compassion is evident here, though the film is as much a triumph of production design as it is of acting, writing and direction.