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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.

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