Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meantime (Mike Leigh) - 1984

Up to this point, this is Mike Leigh's greatest film. This is another of Leigh's TV films, but it is meant to be an actual film and not have the same feel as the earlier made for TV plays. I found a reviewer who pointed out the film was originally intended to be a feature length film for the theatres, but never quite made it that far. It is a lot disappointing that the film never made it to the theatre where it would have found a larger audience. Meantime deserves attention.

Of all Leigh's film, Meantime displays the stuck in the rut, working class family better than any of his previous films. The characters are written stronger. The actors are living these roles more than any other of Leigh's previous films. On many levels, this film is the pre-Naked Leigh film. The existential depression of this family is overwhelming, perfectly expressed, and wonderfully detailed.

Tim Roth plays Colin, the mentally unstable youngest brother. We are never quite certain if Colin is troubled, shy, or actually disabled. His behavior is just sort of dismissed and used against him by many of those in the neighborhood. Roth's character is so exact in its behavior. I have never thought much of Roth as an actor, but Meantime shows off all of Roth's ability.

The mother, played by Pam Ferris, is my favorite character of the film. She steals the scene every time the camera puts her in front of the audience. The most heartbreaking scene takes place at a Bingo hall. Ferris is hoping to win big and be able to bring a little bit of money into her home (where neither of her sons or her husband has a job). As the announcer calls out numbers, she realizes her pen is out of ink. She goes through three pens. Missing numbers and clearly upset. The look of disappointment. The look of loss is all over her face. I can't think of many times when heartbreak has been so extreme and heavy in a single minute.

There is hardly a character that isn't filled with heartbreak. Hardly a scene that doesn't make you feel lost and claustrophobic. The score fits so perfectly with every scene.

The way Leigh and his actors create this film makes for an overwhelming film experience. A world where few people look one another in the eye. Where emotions are never shared. I have left out so many characters, so many incredible moments. But, to not spoil the film, I will end here.


No comments:

Post a Comment