Critic Consensus: Mike Leigh's latest partially-improvised film is a light-hearted comedy with moments that bite, and features a brilliant star turn by Sally Hawkins.
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Critic Reviews for Happy-Go-Lucky
Hawkins wears her grin in almost every scene, but she gives us hints that this dizzy 30-year-old is deep, as are the disappointments that might have caused Poppy to don this mask. It's a performance of sustained, childlike wonder and adult wit.
I've never used this cliché in a review before, and God forbid I ever use it again, so pay close attention: Happy-Go-Lucky is the feel-good movie of the year.
Sally Hawkins, in a blinding, Oscar-worthy piece of acting so good you barely see it, plays Poppy, a perpetually upbeat elementary schoolteacher in London.
Leigh pushes the story in a more interesting direction, asking whether people find happiness or simply will it on themselves.
Audience Reviews for Happy-Go-Lucky
A refreshing film that will leave you smiling, with a cheerful character that may at first be mistaken for simple-minded in her constant optimism but later on proves to be much more complex in the way she sees things - which Sally Hawkins does a wonderful job in showing.
0 stars. This was the first time I gave a movie zero stars on Flixster...and it's not because I'm a cranky old bastard who hates happy movies. The blind optimism in Poppy goes nowhere. Nothing truly terrible happens to her; she doesn't really do anything with her optimism as, say, Amelie does. I thought I would at least enjoy Sally Hawkins' performance, but she doesn't seem happy-go-lucky. She seems drunk, and drunk people are only funny when you are drunk too. Her incessant self-deprecating chuckle-eye roll-head bob grated on my nerves. My soul actually feels deader after seeing this movie.
An engaging character study about a woman blessed with a sunny disposition. It is a rare occasion that you see a protagonist who's care-free nature isn't looked down upon. Her naivety a source of contempt. Poppy the protagonist is in many ways the antithesis of a protagonist in a Sam Mendes film. She isn't cynical, jaded, or doing all in her power to not drown in the minutiae of everyday life. She is sweet, intuitive, independent, and always looking on the bright side. But rather than having her be an empty sack of smiles, Leigh fleshes her out in a way that even when you don't understand her, you root for her. Poppy does not wish to imitate "adult" life, but the pressure to do so is ever-present. Responsibilities mount, situations change, and the desire to find someone grows stronger with each day. Her interactions with her driving teacher, a man very consumed with the idea of responsible living, are awkward, funny, poignant, and an interesting point/counterpoint on proper living. Do I wish that Leigh would have probed a little more into what makes Poppy tick? Yes. But being my first foray into the world of Mike Leigh, I was more than pleased to spend a couple of hours with someone as unique and wonderful as Poppy.
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