Movie Review: Vera Drake
Alternate Title: Angel of Mercy or No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Story: Writer and Director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies) has hit a home run with this full on, direct (albeit exhausting) character driven film about Vera Drake, an angel of mercy in 1950s London. Vera helps downtrodden, underclass women 'out of trouble.'
The film is also about the double standard of the class system in England. Without pounding his fist on the table (or over our heads) Mike Leigh clearly portrays how upper-class women are able to finesse their way around archaic English law and obtain an abortion while lower class women can fumble by only with help from people like Vera Drake.
Vera cleans other people's homes, tends to her family, cares for strangers and also helps women end their early pregnancies (without charge). She is a saint to all who know her. By the time her deeds are uncovered by the police we have already fallen in love with this women and feel her pain deep within our souls.
This is a must see film (regardless of how you feel about the core issue).
Acting: Imelda Staunton will win many awards for her portrayal of Vera Drake. They will be all deserved. The rest of the cast is equally triumphant with special kudos to her husband in the film, Phil Davis.
Predilection: The issue of women and choice is at the core of my political belief system.
Food: Many, many cups of teas (bless the English for their faith in the healing powers of tea), biscuits and lots of good home cooking.
Visual Art: The tight knit quarters that the Drakes live in reminded me of the Van Gogh series of paintings, The Potato Eaters.
Theater Audience: A large number of afternoon attendees with the majority being women.
Sappy Factor: 0
Drift Range: I drifted a few times but only to think about what has happened to a woman's right to choose over the last 50 years - and where it might be going.
Squirm Scale: The emotional pain and fear that these young women suffer was very squirmy, indeed.
Tissue Usage: Lots of tears and sniffles by my movie buddy and me.
Oscar Worthy: Absolutely.
Nit Picking: It could have been about ten minutes shorter.
Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some other films about abortion you could rent: Alfie, The Cider House Rules, Dirty Dancing, The L-Shaped Room and Une Affaire de Femmes.
Length: Ten minutes over the two hour Lobo rule (no penalty applied for this film).
LOBO HOWLS: 9