Tragically Human: The Films of Mike Leigh
New Restoration

This film is a masterpiece, plain and simple … Anne Raitt’s performance is one of the best I have ever seen.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Mike Leigh’s directorial debut, winner of top prize at Locarno, adapts his own stage play into an eloquently drawn cinematic study of solitude and emotional misconnection. Sylvia (Anne Raitt), a repressed secretary in her late twenties, lives a lonely, unseen life caring for her developmentally disabled sister in suburban south London. Starved of affection, Sylvia fumbles through courtships with two awkward admirers: a timid schoolteacher and a maladroit hippie. Sad, honest, and excruciatingly funny, this melancholic character portrait makes a persuasive case for the director’s authorial voice being honed right from the start. I would have to admit,” says Leigh, that Bleak Moments remains, in some ways, the mother of all Mike Leigh films.” Albert Finney, taking a chance on the young, untested filmmaker, backed the work through his production company Memorial Enterprises (responsible for Lindsay Anderson’s If…). It would be 17 years until Leigh’s feature-length follow-up, High Hopes.

A remarkable achievement … Comic—in the Chekhovian sense … The performances in this stark, claustrophobic film are uniformly dazzling.”

Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
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