Love and misery in Mike Leigh’s All or Nothing

The director’s 2002 drama about life on a London housing estate is a film of bleak moments and occasional hope.

Wwritten and directed by Mike Leigh, All or Nothing is an ensemble film about three households living on the same London Council estate. It begins and ends with a focus on Rachel Bassett (Alison Garland), a stoic but sensitive young woman who works as a housekeeper in a nursing home for the aged, who reads in her spare time and who expresses her immense love. gently.

This last quality that she shares with her father Phil (Timothy Spall), a soft-spoken minicab driver, sometimes lost to follow-up. With his dog-beaten-up air, Phil tenderly observes his passengers – who come from all walks of life – and draws philosophical conclusions about the vagaries of existence (“the fickle finger of fate”, as he puts it). Phil’s de facto wife Penny (Lesley Manville) moved away from him emotionally, and their obese son Rory (James Corden) inherited his father’s laziness while developing his own obnoxious pugnacity.

Phil is as close to a protagonist as All or Nothing is, and it’s one of his ruminations about the nature of love that gives the film its title. Indeed, love is a central theme here: love between husband and wife; between parent and child; between friends and between brothers and sisters; the appetizing, horny and powerful love of a teenage girl (Sally Hawkins); the creepy, obsessive love of a stalker (Ben Crompton) or stalker (Sam Kelly); the abusive and opportunistic love of a “loaded” young man (Daniel Mays) towards his girlfriend (Helen Coker); the awkward and desperately needy love of an alcoholic (Marion Bailey); and the more delicately nurtured love of a longtime couple.

“If you are not together, you are alone,” Phil comments to one of his clients, “We are all born alone, you die alone – there is nothing you can do about it.” A deep loneliness runs through the Bassett’s and neighboring families, amplified by a shared fear of death.

Love And Misery In Mike Leigh’s All Or Nothing - Light Home News

Leigh’s typical cinematic methodology – which is to prepare ideas with her cast through intensive, partly improvised rehearsals, before converting the results into a well-written screenplay – pays off here, as everyone is on screen. has a real roundness. Supermarket worker and single mother Maureen (Ruth Sheen), the kind of character normally overlooked in movies, radiates generosity and kindness, and even the director of the minicab of Phil Neville (Gary McDonald) and his operator Dinah (Diveen Henry), mostly secondary characters, are given a delicious comedic moment.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the class divide, the French art dealer Cécile (Kathryn Hunter), whom Phil takes as a ticket on the way to the opera, is not so much demonized as belonging to a alien species, just a passenger in the back of Phil’s life. And yet, during their brief trip together, these two will always be for a brief connection.

Making up for occasional high hopes with plenty of dark moments, the main mode of All or Nothing is decidedly miserable, with Andrew Dickson’s plaintive score for strings and woodwinds rather exaggerating the pathos. It introduces a slightly condescending tone into the debates, like we’re being asked to sympathize rather than sympathize with these characters’ issues. But Leigh cuts in between and through the soapy potential of these different family dramas to show a larger mosaic of the human condition, defined by birth, death, and everything – or nothing – that happens in between.

All or Nothing is released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms on November 15 via StudioCanal.

Reference of the Article-post – lwlies