Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Sally Hawkins is a revelation in an incredibly cheerful, happy British film.

Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is a bright and cheery primary school teacher who loves to bring sunshine and happiness to those around her. One day, her beloved bike is stolen, so she decides to finally get her license and begins taking driving lessons with Scott (Eddie Marsan), a depressing, angry, conspiracy theorist who is pretty much the opposite of Poppy's cotton-candy whimsy.

The film doesn't have a plot, so much as it has a premise, which I've just told you. It's various episodes in Poppy's life and we see how she deals with them, sometimes with cheery optimism and humor and other times with quiet kindness and gentleness. It's up to Sally Hawkins to make it work, and she does. Despite being so strangely happy, Hawkins keeps Poppy grounded and allows for the character to feel more like a realized person than just a character that is defined by the word "Happy". The film lives or dies by her performances and luckily for us, it soars.

The film itself is very funny, and a lot of the humor comes from Poppy's interactions with other people, like her sarcastic and dead-pan best friend Zoe or with the tightly wound Scott. The director was smart enough to not make Poppy the only cheerful person in the film. It could have been too easy to create a film about a optimist stuck in a depressing world filled with depressing people, but instead we are treated the the school principle who enjoys Flamenco lessons and with a school counselor who enjoys helping as much as Poppy does.

The result is a sweet film about someone who never allows life to get them down and finds joy in every single situation that she can, making it hard to keep from smiling during the film and after the credits have stopped rolling. Highly recommended.

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