What is the most inappropriate children's film

Happy-Go-Lucky

Don't worry, be Happy Go Lucky!

Mike Leigh surprises with anti-depression cinema

»Cheese!« - you don't have to tell Poppy that at the photo session, she almost always has a big smile on her face anyway. It takes a while in the cinema before you can be absolutely sure that Poppy is not just crazy. This young woman is so jolly and annoying in a good mood, so over-the-top and even thinking positively at the most inopportune moments that she must be insane, or on drugs. For example, when the heroine of Mike Leigh's new film has her bike stolen - a nice little game with bike thieves, de Sica's key neorealism film - she rolls her big eyes briefly because she couldn't say goodbye to him, then she smiles continues, and decides to take the whole thing as a sign from heaven that she should finally get her driver's license.

Otherwise Poppy likes to tell bad jokes, dances incredibly miserable, but flamenco with childish enthusiasm and she doesn't care that she has little money and has been single for a long time. In addition to all of this, it has been a long time - except in comic book adaptations - that you have seen a film heroine who is so badly dressed: Brightly colored, sometimes bright orange, then fluorescent green clothes, fishnet stockings and leather boots with predator pattern faux fur, which are too high - but funny! - Paragraphs are also not exactly accessible to a dignified appearance.

In short: Poppy, actually Pauline, elementary school teacher in North London is one of those characters that some people say that you "just have to fall in love" with them. But of course nothing is easy in love, and the problems begin at the latest when love and must appear in one sentence.

It also takes a while for the doubts to clear as to whether or not you were wrong in the door after all and are not in a Mike Leigh film at all. Because actually Mike Leigh can get on your nerves too. Certainly he has undisputed merits for the trophy collection of British cinema anyway, after all he won a Golden Palm in Cannes (Secret and Lies, 1996) and a Golden Lion in Venice (Vera Drake. 2004). But Leigh is clearly a man for those bleak moments, for films like that, in which poor people do ugly things and where you know you have to find that good now and be concerned, but actually when you watch you only think about when you are going to finally comes out of this depression cinema again. It is easy to overlook the fact that Leigh's films often also have a fine sense of humor, and that 65-year-old Leigh made at least one extremely humorous light film with Topsy-Turvy in 1999 - but significantly, it never made it to German cinemas.

Happy-go-lucky is above all the film by Sally Hawkins, who is in the picture almost every minute and rightly received a Silver Bear in February at the Berlinale for her thoroughly grandiose appearance as Poppy.

The title means something like "carefree" in German. That can be a virtue, but it can also mean shutting oneself off ignorantly from life and this film balances exactly between these two possibilities.

But how is it that a director whose films have so far often had a penchant for the pedagogical, in which one was repeatedly annoyed by a penchant for sentimentalization and moralism, now suddenly makes such a "feelgood film"?

There are several ways to interpret Mike Leigh's intentions: If you don't want to assume that he simply delivers what the cinema industry loves, a "summer film" as it is called, for which you print colorful posters that look something like Poppy's clothes, then it could be that Leigh would like to target exactly such reflexes and everything that, without exaggerated pessimism, can also be described as infantilization of society as a whole. That he tries out what is reasonable in a good mood and wants to show us how unbearable optimism can be if you take it seriously. So it was about your game with the mechanisms of observation.

Of course, Mike Leigh, as always, may just mean all of this very seriously. Then one would assume that he doesn't think much further than his main character. Certainly: this film, too, is populated with the well-known types of the Mike Leigh cinema: dirty homeless people, schoolchildren who suffer from their parents and therefore become socially conspicuous, aggressive evil philistines like Poppy's driving instructor, who turns out to be a right-wing extremist misanthropist, and Poppy also spoils the good mood for a short time. At the same time, these driving lessons that run through the film are, however, small miniatures of brilliant cinema comedy.

And this time around, Leigh completely lacks the tearfulness of his earlier films. We viewers do not have to love anyone, neither feelings nor views are forced upon us. Precisely for that reason one believes the cinematic realist Leigh unconditionally in this case that optimism is indispensable if one wants to be a realist.

You can think a bit of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, which in certain moods can only seem sentimental, but was actually a great, very cool analysis of his present. That's happy-go-lucky! also and in that sense this is finally a really good Mike Leigh film.

Rüdiger Suchsland