Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Forget your troubles, c'mon get happy. . .

All you fabulous, single divas out there - grab your girlfriends and any smug marrieds you know, and go, go, go see the new Mike Leigh film Happy-Go-Lucky. Poppy Cross (and what a character to encounter on Remembrance Day), is a thirty-year old single woman working as a primary school teacher, sharing a flat with a friend in London and absolutely loving her life. She's perky, optimistic, (and yes, sometimes too irritatingly cheerful), but ultimately her positive and caring outlook on life is infectious. The movie is a series of her encounters with the ill-tempered, as she takes driving lessons with a surly instructor, tries to help one of her students who is bullying children in the playground, tries flamenco lessons with an angry, scorned woman, and visits her pregnant, patronizing sister. But it's also a celebration of those quiet, ordinary moments in life that are necessary and joyful - going for a walk, feeling the wind on your face as you bicycle through the streets, taking a rowboat on the lake with a friend or browsing in a bookstore (I went to see this film with a colleague and booknerds that we are, we both nudged each other as the first book that came into view was Canadian author Madeleine Thein's Certainty - this is the British cover).

Sally Hawkins is brilliant as Poppy, awkward and charming, naive and thoughtful - in character through every fibre of her body and Alexis Zegerman as Zoe, her cynical but supportive room-mate also gives a terrific performance. It's so refreshing to see a movie where the female characters aren't all sitting around moaning about relationships. And why would they? Most of the men in this movie are either narcissistically withdrawn, angrily bitter or obsessed with cars and playing video games. But fear not, Poppy does encounter a social worker who seems to be a decent bloke - no surprise that there's a whole wall of books in his apartment. Honestly, if you've been feeling glum about the economy or the fading daylight, this movie will cheer you up no end - one of the best films of 2008! I now need to find a trampoline.
And if you are surrounded by prickly people in your life or at work, you might want to check out this book pubbing in January. How to Hug a Porcupine: 101 Ways to Love the Difficult People in Your Life by Debbie Ellis, promises tips on how to spot a porcupine, end an argument and get your porcupine to pull his or her quills in. We all have people (or customers) in our lives who are harder to love than others - this book will help us to keep smiling.

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