The conflicts of a suburbam family in an orbital town are played out as a the the twenty-something twins of a middle aged couple push their parents to boiling point.
Wendy (Steadman) and Andy (Broadbent) have twin daughters, named Natalie and Nicola. Natalie is not possessed of the most sparkling personality but she has all the down to eatrh qualities one would expect from a plumber. Nicola, by contrast, is unemployed, aggressive - and a complete pain in the butt. Their mother, for her sins, works part-time in a children's wear shop and takes children's dancing lessons on Saturday mornings. Her husband, a gullible sort, hates his job as a chef in a large company and longs to work for himself, which makes him an easy target for a devious drinking partner who persuades him to buy a clapped out mobile snack bar.
So the story unfolds. What follows is a mildly humorous attempt to tell an everyday tale of suburban folk with whom we are supposed to sympathise as they nag each other at every available opportunity. Mike Leigh's film lacks the razor sharp wit of his 1977 comedy Abigail's Party, although he hasn't lost his ability to find pathos in the most innocuous situations.
Alison Steadman puts in a sterling performance as the supporting wife and mother, and Jane Horrocks really steals the show as the highly strung, anorexic twin who twitches and fidgets her way throughout the mundane proceedings amidst a cloud of cigarette fumes. Her perverse sexual appetite, which involves a liberal dose of chocolate spread and a certain amount of bondage, will either make you laugh or squirm with embarrassment. Alternatively, it could have you reaching for a jar of peanut butter.
Leigh has the skill to inspire with the everyday. Still one of his best.