Hawkins enjoys breakout role in Leigh film


Release date: Oct. 10

Director Mike Leigh may be a Hollywood outsider, toiling away at his small, character-driven, improv-inspired films year after year. But ever since “Secrets & Lies” was nominated for five Oscars (picture, director, actress, supporting actress and original screenplay) in 1997, he’s been no stranger to the Academy. In 2000, his period dramedy “Topsy-Turvy” garnered four nominations, including two wins for costume design and makeup, and in 2005, his abortion drama “Vera Drake” earned three major nominations, including his second directorial plaudit.

With his latest, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” which critics are calling his funniest and most upbeat gem, the U.K. veteran may yet again crash the American industry’s biggest party. All eyes are fixed, in particular, upon newcomer Sally Hawkins’ starmaking performance as Poppy, a free-spirited primary schoolteacher whose unflagging optimism is tested — in slight and unpredictable ways — throughout the story.

Known only for small roles in previous Leigh outings and a widely praised turn in a recent PBS Masterpiece Classic production of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” Hawkins won Berlin’s Silver Bear for best actress earlier this year. Since then, critics have continued to salivate: The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis called the young British actress “glorious,” and her performance “recognizably human and every inch a calculated work of art,” while the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert simply wrote: “She is a joy to behold.”

While the film may be a slow-starter at the box office, widespread positive blurbage has helped deliver strong per-theater averages on a limited number of screens and should sustain momentum through the award season. Hawkins’ infectious performance has potentially the best chance of wooing voters, but Leigh has also been a standard-bearer in writing and directing categories as well.

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety