Made in the same tradition as one could expect from a Mike Leigh film where the story is improvised by it's leads using an actual setting showcasing problems involving the middle class. In this case, a group of people who have some connection with the other, we don't know how nor understand in what way they're relevent until the very end. Very 'subtle' and raw which makes it more appealing since all of them are acting without any make up on nor are they on any Hollywood set. Everything done in this film takes place on the some of the seediest streets of London. What one can expect from this film starts off with a young average lady looking for love by placing a lovelorn ad, another story dealt with first time parents as a couple, a mother having to put up with a neigbors barking dog everyday and all night, and an older son total withdraw from his father made in a docu-drama style.
All I can say is that theirs something appealing about watching actors without any makeup on, which as a result make their personas to become authetic and relatable without any high expectations coping with actual locations without it being a stage. If it comes to "neo-realist" this happens to be like one of them in these current times and think that it's very hard to do.
3 out of 4 stars
What lifts it above the sort of social realism common in British cinema is the cutting, the cinematography and Michael Nyman's lovely music, which must be his best work post-Greenaway. While I've never been a big fan of the 'poetry of degradation' school of art, somehow the ugliness and squalor of South East London are transformed by this film and the lives of the characters are invested with real dignity.
Though it may deal with the same sort of subject matter as Ken Loach or Mike Leigh, the style and approach are very different - the difference between a great piece of prose and a poem. I guess you could say Winterbottom and Nyman do for London what Scorsese and Herrmann did for New York in Mean Streets and Taxi Driver.
This is a beautiful film and I feel real gratitude to Michael Winterbottom for bringing our lives to the screen in such a way.
The realistic tackling of the story and the soundtrack really manage to keep a story that could have felt too much like a soap opera on the rails.