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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...


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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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »

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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