Monday, December 13, 2010

Home Sweet Home (Mike Leigh) - 1982

As the first 20 minutes of this film happened, I found myself distracted. I couldn't find the space in my head to keep an attention. I started to worry my Mike Leigh marathon was about to hit a wall. I mean, this is quite a lot films in a short amount of time. Then, I thought maybe it was just a boring film. Then, at the half way mark, I was suddenly overwhelmed by this film. There was a shift in the Leigh method.

Up until this film, most of Leigh's films are strictly character studies. Not a single plot. Also, most of the characters are working class and stuck in a rut. Unable to see their way out. Never willing to take action to better themselves. Leigh decides to change the rules a bit with Home Sweet Home.

The film begins in typical fashion. We are introduced to three different characters and their home life during the course of the first 20 minutes of the film. And, as is usual, Leigh picks a specific character to focus most of the story on. For Home Sweet Home, the focus is on Stan. A man who was left by his wife for another man. She ran off and never left word of her whereabouts. Their daughter was taken into foster care. Some of the film focuses on Stan's attempt to try and reconnect with his daughter. This is where most of the plot comes in. By the films end, Stan shows interest in getting back his daughter.

The other characters in the film are co-workers of Stan and each of those men's wives. By films middle, Stan has started some flirty affairs with these women. In this, Leigh shows his characters finally attempting to make a change in their lives. In past Leigh films, characters never would have acted on their desires. But, at last, action takes place.

There is the theme of violence and anger in Leigh's films which I haven't really spoken of yet. In Nuts in May there is a small outburst towards the films end. In Grown-Ups there is another fight of rage. Same takes place in this film. An explosion of anger and repression. Leigh's focus on the working class shows us their day to day realities, but rarely their emotions. Only when tempers have been pushed to the edge to the real emotions finally become exposed.

This is the last of Leigh's TV plays. The next two films are films made as films (not plays) for TV. Then Leigh returns with his feature length films.


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