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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 »


Leigh's melancholy variation on 'Postman's Knock' centres on three postmen whose domestic lives on a suburban estate are more loosely (and painfully) entangled than they realise. The sexual conquests ... 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 »


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 »


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 »

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