Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge) and Annie (lynda Steadman) are two young women
of 30 (or something) who meet up once again after several years and, during
a period almost magically touched by relevant coincidences, dwell upon the
past they shared, the people they knew, and the way they used to be. Within
the space of one turbulent and surprise-filled weekend, they touch ground
with each other once more and, while doing so, reveal to the viewer the ways
in which they have both changed.
Their chance encounters with figures from the past include a meeting with the
confused, disturbed, and disturbing Ricky (Mark Benton) and it is with this
character that the most memorable moment occurs. Their last and sharpest
confrontation could easily leave the viewer disturbed even after the film has
Director Mike Leigh, who has been making films for a quarter of a century
and won many prestigious awards for his work during that time, once again
opens up a realistic and (in some cases) recognizable situation for the
viewer. Despite the high praise and almost cult following he has enjoyed
among a large group of fans for many years, it was not really until "Abigail's
Party" that he began to attract a larger audience. "Naked," which includes a
masterful performance by David Threlfall and won Leigh the Best Director
prize at Cannes in 1993 shot him into full flow among the mainstream circuit.
His 1995 film "Secrets and Lies" won the Best Actress Oscar for Brenda
Blethyn and made him a household name in the States. All of this, however,
has not altered his dedication to the type of film he is interested in making,
through which he can deal with realistic situations and delve into human
character. Leigh's name and subject matter generally signal a penetrating
tale unadorned by superficial dressings, but many native English speakers of
late (from both sides of the ocean) have remarked on the over-the-top acting
displayed in his latest film. Perhaps they suspect (and dislike) an intentional
push toward becoming further ingratiated among the Hollywood industry.
This need not necessarily be true. There are people like these out there. It
doesn't necessarily mean they're over the top. Everything is relative. I know
some of them, don't you?
© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett