Vera Drake - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Vera Drake Reviews

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March 15, 2018


[Mike Leigh]
March 2, 2018
Britain in 1950 seems perfectly recreated in Mike Leigh's sombre look at a cleaning woman's desire to "help young girls out". Imelda Staunton justifiably won the BAFTA and was nominated for an Oscar as Vera Drake who maternally comforts many poor women by inducing miscarriages. She's warm and matter-of-fact despite the whole thing being illegal - but that latter fact causes everything to come crashing down. Although director Mike Leigh (best known for Secrets and Lies, 1996, perhaps) is overtly showing us how an anti-choice political climate makes things difficult for poor women (even as rich women are shown to have other ways to solve the same problem, quasi-legally, in subplot with Sally Hawkins), the film succeeds beyond making didactic points due to the commitment of the actors and the perfect mise-en-scene. Leigh's way of working with the actors, involving up to six months of rehearsals and complete biographical backstories to their characters - plus a fully improvised script - must have contributed. In fact, apparently none of the other actors knew that the film was about abortion until their characters found out - lending genuine surprise/shock to the proceedings. An increasingly difficult watch but important to consider.
½ May 14, 2016
Quite a good film although it's unusual for Mike Leigh to make a film without much comedy in it. I guess the subject matter didn't lend itself to comedy. Impressive performances although Imelda Staunton's whimpering does grind on you after a while.
½ September 5, 2015
Very dark and tragic film by Mike Leigh. Brilliantly written and acted in his own inimitable way.
½ July 29, 2015
This is an interesting story but that lead performance stands out as the goods more so than the movie.
½ April 7, 2015
Don't give up! This movie starts incredibly slowly and boringly, but ramps up the pace and drama the more it progresses. Ultimately turns out to be a very powerful drama, and an exploration of 1950s prejudices and hangups (some of which, unfortunately, still exist today).

Though the movie is clearly meant to spark thought and discussion on abortion, director Mike Leigh doesn't really take a stance. In some ways this is good, as it means you can enjoy the movie as a drama, no matter what your view on abortion. In some ways, however, I wish Leigh had taken a stance (preferably pro-choice), just to make it more controversial.

Imelda Staunton is superb in the lead role and deserved her Best Actress Oscar nomination (losing out to Hillary Swank for Million Dollar Baby).

A powerful movie. Just be patient.
January 23, 2015
Not only is "Vera Drake" yet another of Leigh's impeccably acted (Staunton and Hawkins are unbelievably good) and intricately layered dramas, but it's also a fearless testament to the women who consistently stand up against institutionalized oppression and psychologically destructive social constructs all while keeping society in working order.
½ November 9, 2014
good character study
October 20, 2014
This is definitely a slow burn of a movie with alot not really going on until you get half way through it. I love Imelda Staunton and think no matter how crappy a movie, she's one of those actresses that makes it worth while just to see her energy on screen. She is very powerful especially towards the end of the film. I've only seen two Mike Leigh films, this and Secret & Lies, but judging by his Oscar nominations he is really known for his writing more and I think it is good here but like Lies, it just drags alot and could be better paced. The costumes are great and the score is too plus a great cameo from Jim Broadbant who like Staunton I just enjoy in every movie he is in. The rest of the cast also does a nice job especially towards the end like the rest of the movie seems to be.
October 11, 2014
This tells a simple but touching and thought-provoking story.
September 1, 2014
I have seen Imelda Staunton in plays and films and has always enjoyed her performances immensely. But this one is very good. Her portrayal of the little woman who loves her family and believe in doing good for others is very delicate. Her powerful performance as the terrified little lady facing the justice system is very convincing and initiates a lot of sympathy in the audience.
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2014
Imelda Staunton's performance as an illegal abortionist is understated enough to be brilliant. Her passion for helping women which seems to be greater than her understanding for doing what it is that she does adds to the film's gravity.
February 24, 2014
For such a controversial subject matter, this movie was done really well. Imelda Staunton was near perfect, and it was hard not to be mesmerized by her performance.
December 29, 2013
Good flick when you're in a melancholy mood. Damn. She could be the poster child for Planned Parenthood.
September 27, 2013
Last night, I decided to watch this film. I had been planning to watch it for a long time so I pulled myself away from 'Grant Theft Auto V' and watched this, and 'Freaks'. I found this film to be moving and depressing, it deals with a very sensitive subject with such humanity.

Imelda Staunton gives a gripping, heartbreaking performance as the selfless and caring Vera Drake, despite her second job as a back-street abortionist she is a character we care for and understand, she takes no pride in what she does, accepts no payment, she just wants to "help girls out" as she puts it.

What I admire most about this film is that it shows us both sides of the argument; we don't always care for the girls she's helping out, some are getting an abortion because they've been unfaithful. However, some of them are victims of rape or already have more than 5 children and can't afford another mouth to feed. We're also shown a rape victim having a legitimate abortion from an actual doctor, purely because her family are wealthy; they can afford the cost, these back-street abortions are a way out for the underprivileged.

In conclusion, Vera Drake's struggle is one I believe she did not deserve, she was just trying to help people as she always does, she has her children she cares for, houses she cleans, and older people she looks after; Vera is just a genuinely kind hearted person.

My Rating 4/5.
August 19, 2013
Staunton is unbelievable, even if the film is not.
July 11, 2013
As an evocation of English working-class life half a century ago, it feels utterly authentic, and is ennobled -- not too strong a word, I think -- by Imelda Staunton's performance in the title role.
June 4, 2013
An absolutely compelling performance from Imelda Staunton.
May 26, 2013
A little bit overrated film.
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