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UK, 1977 (MIFF 1989, Mike Leigh Retrospective)

Director: Mike Leigh

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 pretensions and affectations, much to the distress of her husband Laurence, a go-getting real estate agent with a few of his own, thank you.

As in many of Leigh's films, the hot-bed of repressed sexual desire that lurks beneath the surface of the suburbs of London(!) bubbles over uncomfortably.

Leigh's best-loved piece in the UK was a huge hit on stage before being filmed (or more precisely 'taped' for it was shot on videotape not film). Shot entirely in the studio with only one set and a minimum of camera movement, directly replicating the original stage success. Abigail's Party is Leigh at his most direct, an incisive comedy-of-manners building to a shattering climax that goes way beyond the bounds of expectation.

See also...


This tale of young love focuses on the romantic ebb of love in the life of a rather shambling undertaker's assistant. ... More »


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 ... More »


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 »


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 »


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 »


Two couples, one Catholic, one Protestant, are near neighbours in Belfast. They have nothing in common, save the fact that both women are expecting their first babies, which will be born on the same ... More »

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