High Hopes Review

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Shirley and Cyril are a working-class London couple, dealing with all the usual family dilemmas and social problems which seemed more prominent in the 1980s. The neighbours are ghastly social-climbers, Shirley just wants a baby, and Cyril wants the word of marx to re-shape the world. And all this while sister Valerie is staging a massive family party for mum's 70th, which is all set to fail from the first party-popper.


We're in King's Cross with a down-at-heel couple trying to make ends meet in this entirely improvised Mike Leigh production, his first feature film for the cinema since his debut in 1971.

Despite its bleak locations, High Hopes is in fact very funny, with wonderful observations on life in the capital (office receptionists' reactions to motorcycle courier Philip Davis being among the best) and believable, touching performances all round.

Juxtaposed is the chinzty suburban lifestyle of Davis' sister and his mother's gross Sloane neighbours, creating a truthful commentary, albeit an exaggerated one, on late 80s Britain.

Life may have changed a bit since 1988 but families never change and for that reason, this story of the social gulf between rich and poor still holds water