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ABIGAIL'S PARTY

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...

MEANTIME

UK, 1983
Though beautifully made and acted, "Meantime" is definitely I minority-audience film. It concerns an East End family Husband, wife, two grown sons, Mark a cynic, and Colin, a bit simple-minded. The t… More »

SEACOAL

UK, 1985
Lying somewhere between the naturalism of Mike Leigh and the working class concerns of Ken Loach, Seacoal, a unique collaborative project, is an astonishing doco-drama that demolishes the lines betwe… More »

The Short and Curlies

UK, 1987
In between serving cough pastels and contraceptives at the chemist's, Joy dreams of the perfect man. Over at the hairdresser's, Betty has the same pre occupation for herself and her daughter Charlene ... More »

HIGH HOPES

UK, 1988
... ... Mike Leigh's latest film is his first made directly for cinema release in 17 years and a fitting culmination to the retrospective of his films screening through the festival. ... The most sop… More »

BLEAK MOMENTS

UK, 1971
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 w… More »

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