Life Is Sweet - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Life Is Sweet Reviews

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August 4, 2016
/B/ Fun and enjoyable.
Super Reviewer
½ July 2, 2016
A superb piece of kitchen sink drama. Superbly acted, warm, funny and also very down to earth and is instantly familiar. It is Jane Horrocks, as Nicola, who really shines. Loved it.
½ September 19, 2015
Mike Leigh and his actors are making up the script as the film goes on. That's what it seems like. The middleclass Londonian family does the best out of everything. They work hard, they keep a positive tone and they tries to deal with their issues. They help their friends out and the keep their dreams up.

Few big scenes, but a slow little looker. That sex-scene really was something, though.
A drama comedy that got a quite light tone. The characters are likeable, some of them interestingly weird. "Aubrey" is probably my favorite, portrayed by Timothy Spall.
It got a small documentary-vibe. I definetly think that this could be one typical early 90's family of England.

Well acted and well directed film. Simple but solid. I like the way I get to know every single character in circulated doses - and in the end I'm left perfectly full of them.

7.5 out of 10 pork cysts.
½ May 17, 2015
A near perfect film.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2014
I don't exactly know how sweet these people's lives are, but I can see where a mistake would be made, because with these folks' lifestyles, their teeth are bound to rot out. Oh no, I don't necessarily mean that these people are so struggling that they have serious hygiene problems, as much as I mean that they don't have too much worse hygiene than the usual Brit. This side of working-class life in London isn't quite "Naked" bleak, but it's still Mike Leigh telling us all that England isn't exactly crackerjack, even for Jim Broadbent. I don't care how upset Broadbent gets, because he's always bound to put you into a bit of a perky mood, so maybe Leigh didn't make the best decision when he hooked Broadbent up with Alison Steadman in this film. It was years after this film before Leigh and Steadman divorced, but I'd imagine Steadman thought about how much more charming her home life with Broadbent would be than hers with pessimistic ol' Leigh, no matter how much Leigh tried to make her think otherwise through this film. Well, maybe this film isn't all that pessimistic, although it is realistic, and in a lot of cases, reality can be worse than you'd think, especially when you're stuck with fast-food vans, one daughter who is a plumber, and another daughter who is bulimic, and probably can't understand even what you are saying. Man, the Brits do have it a little rough, so it's a good thing this film is funny, and I'm not just saying that because there is plenty to challenge your attention in this film extending beyond the indistinctive accents.

There isn't really much to develop with these characters, yet there's still something kind of undercooked about them, to where they often feel like thin types in the context of a story that is a little loosely set in reality, and feels a little histrionic due to your not being able to get all that firmly invested. If the underdevelopment doesn't get you invested enough to embrace the story of limited believability, it doesn't get you invested enough to get over how blasted obnoxious these reasonably well-drawn and very well-portrayed characters are, because whether it be Alison Steadman's cloyingly loud Wendy, or Jim Broadbent's overly well-intentioned Andy, or Claire Skinner's sassy Natlie, or Jane Horrock's aggravatingly creepy, sexist, spiteful, lazy, and altogether self-centered Nicola, the leads - admittedly made all the more challenging by abrasive North London accents - tend to try your patience throughout a meandering narrative. The film is more-or-less driven by filler, punctuated by only so much of a sense of plot progression, but if nothing else hinders a sense of momentum, it's the British dryness of Mike Leigh's storytelling. Leigh always has something to work with, so no matter how much he dries things out, the film never dull, and rarely less than fun, but it's still only fun in a very British sense, remaining aimless with all of its subdued unraveling of a minimalist story. The weightier aspects which define the heart of this film are here, but they take their time kicking in, as this dramedy is primarily about average folks going about average lifestyles with only so much conflict, and only so much going on at all. The final product is simply rather inconsequential, as its story is thin and its storytelling is either undercooked or draggy, and anchored by obnoxious characters who help in making the film something of a challenge. Still, this is a challenge reasonably worth taking on, because no matter how problematic the film is, as I said, it's fairly fun, and even rather pretty.

There's not much to Dick Pope's cinematography, but those subtle little stresses on lighting grace the film with a handsome brightness that is almost as perky as Rachel Portman's uniquely Euro-Jazz and light classical-style score, which is lovely, and adds to the charm of the film. Whether it be because it's attempting to be ironic as a deconstruction of the traditional, middle-class family unit, or whatever, this film relies on a lighthearted, humbling style that is not only very well-sold, but enjoyable in livening up the film and complimenting its themes. As for the script which ought to be doing the same, Mike Leigh gets either carried away or too subdued in the structure of storytelling, but he still turns in a very colorful script with interesting characters and sharp dialogue that, when actually comprehensible, is plenty amusing. Of course, the color of the script cannot thrive without Leigh delivering as a colorful directorial storyteller, and sure enough, even though Leigh's direction relies on a certain thoughtfulness which often retards momentum, the pacing of the film never falls to a dull crawl, as Leigh keeps the scene structuring tight and busy enough to consistently entertain, until slowing down in time for the occasional dramatic beat. The film is fairly effective for what it is, and although what it is is rather inconsequential and, well, a tad abrasive, when it's fairly fun, it's thought-provoking, and it's never less than charming, even with the aggravating characters. If there is charm to the roles, they thrive on the leads' performances, for even Jane Horrocks, with her transformative convincingness and dramatic effectiveness, endears you a bit to her almost seemingly irredeemable Nicola character, while the colorful Jim Broadbent, perky Alison Steadman, Claire Skinner, and almost show-stealing Timothy Spall add to the fun factor of a film that, without them, would be consistently obnoxious. Sure, the film gets on your nerves plenty of times, and it doesn't offer you too much beyond that, but what this is, it's pretty enjoyable, with compelling highlights.

In closing, the characters are underdeveloped, hard to fully buy into, and obnoxious, challenging your patience about as much as aimlessness and dry spells to the telling of a thin story, thus, the final product is inconsequential, yet through tasteful cinematography and score work, clever scripting, colorful direction, and worthy performances, Mike Leigh's "Life is Sweet" stands as an entertaining and occasionally touching dramedy.

2.5/5 - Fair
July 3, 2014
Forgot about this movie...saw it 22 years ago when I lived in London. Very funny and "Bubbles" from "AbFab" is in it :)
May 29, 2014
This third feature film from writer-director Mike Leigh is one of his best. It's a slice-of-life, comedy-drama about a working-class British family during Thatcherism. Leigh's method involves extensive, improvisational rehearsals with the actors, which is shaped into a final script that is filmed. The result is a funny, poignant view of the daily struggles and misapplied hopes of the laboring class. Jim Broadbent is an ineffectual chef, who purchases a mobile fast-food van; Alison Steadman is his cheerful, voluble, steadfast wife, employed in retail and as a children's dance instructor. They have twin daughters, played by Claire Skinner and Jane Horrocks, who are polar opposites. Hiding behind thick red hair and glasses, with her mouth perpetually curled up, Horrocks is especially affecting as the self-loathing, bulimic daughter. There is a confrontation between mother and daughter that is simply lyrical in emotional frankness. Leigh's filmmaking is unadorned and there is a subtle undercurrent of political reproach that is effective. The superb cast includes Timothy Spall, Stephen Rea, and David Thewlis. Fine music score is by Rachel Portman.
May 21, 2014
Mike Leigh's slice-of-life dramedy that says we may all do disgusting things, but that doesn't make us disgusting people.
½ May 12, 2014
I think the critics praise of this is way overdone. I kept thinking the movie was doing character development and then the story would begin...but then the movie ended.
½ March 23, 2014
First class film from one of the great modern directors.
March 11, 2014
This movie was utter trash and dreadful. After 48 minutes I just turned it off and put it back in the box and will forget about it. zero stars.
January 7, 2014
Life is bittersweet and rarely does a movie do such a wonderful job of encapsulating that fact.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2014
At the same time the film is sweet and good natured and darker when dealing with the real issues underneath the seemingly normal exterior. Life is Sweet is a slice-of-life study of a lower middle-class family which is made up of a Wife and husband both of whom are young for having 20-something year old twin girls, both of whom live at home still. They have some physical similarities but are also vastly different in their fashions and outward appearance as well as mental opposites, Natalie who has a boyish haircut and fashion is optimistic and cheerful while Nicola is coping with some serious depression and anorexia/bulimia issues and has a rather cold disposition towards the world and especially her family. The film dives into the everyday lifestyle of the family and a few close friends and acquaintances but delves underneath to the more serious psychological issues and troubles of those involved and makes for a sentimental look on family life.
December 20, 2013
This film is perfect. If you love film, you do not want to miss an opportunity to see it. Steadman and Bradbent manage to both warm and break our hearts. Nothing more needs to be said.
½ November 16, 2013
So goddamn good. A clear influence on Step Brothers and Napoleon Dynamite, but nothing like those movies. Perfectly blends comedy and drama. And takes the comedy aspects as seriously as the drama.
½ November 3, 2013
mike leigh does sad sods /flawed characters brilliantly. this one was darn bloody hilarious.
go on, treat yourself to some laughs - god knows we need 'em.
November 2, 2013
this is probably my favourite mike leigh film yet. I think a lot of the problems I have with Leigh's work were still present, but to a lesser extent. I find Leigh's films tend to have characters that turn into caricatures because we don't understand why they have all the crazy quirks that they do, and we can't relate to them on a human level. There's also rarely a coherent sense of plot, which may be a european aesthetic, but to me, just makes the films feel scattered. This one was better I think, because Leigh got out of his own way a bit, and actually revealed a bit about his characters by the end, and the resulting emotion was wonderful. I definitely think Leigh knows his characters extremely well, and he knows what he's doing, but that maybe his vision isn't always expressed in the best way, because a lot of times i find myself trying to grasp what it is. then again, i've only seen a few of his works yet, and already, this being my 3rd film, i feel like i get it more, so maybe i'll understand his style and artistry once i see a more coherent collection of his work.
October 21, 2013
Life is Sweet is Mike Leigh's 1990 British classic about a middle-class family and their daily lives. A synopsis that boring sounds painful to watch, especially since it's a bit of an indie film, but Mike Leigh rises above it and presents us with a stark and truly real family, full of love, laughs and problems, and none of it feels over the top or pretentious. It feels real. All of the performances are fantastic, with particular props to Jane Horrocks and Timothy Spall, although Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent are wonderful as the silly and lovable mum and dad. The film is funny and delightful, but also takes the time to be both dramatic and down to earth. A great cast, fantastic score and solid direction make this one a real winner in my book. Family comedies are hard to make interesting, and this one just excels greatly.
½ August 27, 2013
Only Mike Leigh can do this kind of magic and it makes one wish he had the insatiable need to make films at breakneck pace; if only he could be our British Woody Allen. Not only is he wanting to see every character he introduces to us as honestly as possible and with just the slightest edge of caricature, but he also has the gall to try and suggest to us that beyond all the hint at tragedy and misunderstanding, sometimes we are all doing ok, inside our skins, going along as best we can. This is his celebration of family and food, although you can see a handful of other themes to play with, and nothing comes across as cliché or hackneyed. A film to savor and another gleeful example of Leigh's humanity.
July 11, 2013
By the end of "Life is Sweet," we are treading close to the stuff of life itself - to the way we all struggle and make do, compromise some of our dreams and insist on the others.
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