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UK, 1971 (MIFF 1989, Mike Leigh Retrospective)

Director: Mike Leigh

Adapted from his 1970 stage production, Bleak Moments not only represents Mike Leigh's feature film debut but also establishes the characteristic method of mood of his output, a stylistic signature which has been described as 'heightened realism'. The film revolves around Sylvia (Anne Raitt), a young South London woman with an office job and a mentally retarded sister, Hilda (Sarah Stephen). Other people who figure in Sylvia's suburbanly semi-detached existence include Pat (Joolia Cappleman), a monotonally bright typist colleague, Peter (Eric Allen), a diffident schoolteacher — and possible love interest — plus Norman (Mike Bradwell), a hippie drifter who rents out Sylvia's garage to print an underground magazine and play his guitar. Leigh's critically praised comedy/drama of claustrophobic manners is notable for its trenchantly accurate playing and an undfrlying tone of gentle, nervy humour.

See also...


No Mike Leigh film better illustrates the unique blend of comedy and drama that have come to be a trademark of his work than Grown Ups, which moves from heart-rendering pathos to hilarious, chaotic ... More »


The appalling Beverley (played by Alison Steadman, a Leigh regular) has arranged a small party amongst a few neighbours, which provides the perfect opportunity to display her vast array of cultural ... More »


An early BBC work, Hard Labour continues the understated, downbeat style of Bleak Moments in what may be Leigh's most poignant portrait, that of a middle-aged working class woman whose life is a ... More »


A 'post-hippie' couple take a camping holiday in Devon, determined to escape the bustle of the city. Leigh's brilliantly observed comedy will have you loathing the officious husband within minutes ... More »


Leigh's best-known film in Australia is the most sophisticated of his television-films and one of the great British films of the decade. Made not for the BBC but for Central Television, the film was ... More »

The Five Minute Films

Made early in Leigh's career at the BBC, but not screened until the 1982 Mike Leigh Retrospective on BBC-2, this is a series of 5 short vignettes, each five minutes in length, each designed to ... More »

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