Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Movie You Aught to See: Vera Drake

Welcome back to Monday Movies You Aught to See! Regardless of whether the decade ended already ended in 2009 or will end at the close of the current year, the 2000s were a wonderful period of cinema with many treasures that deserve to be remembered. Check in at Movies with Abe on Mondays for Movies You Aught to See, a look back at memorable movies from the aughts. They are posted in no particular order, and if you have a great film from the 2000s that you think merits consideration, leave a note in the comments!

Vera Drake
Directed by Mike Leigh
Released October 22, 2004

I was reminded that I hadn’t yet included this excellent film in this series when I attended a press day decently with Mike Leigh and several stars of his new film “Another Year,” which opens in December and is truly terrific. Leigh likes to work with the same actors, and therefore all three thespians who have starring parts in “Another Year” – Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent, and Ruth Sheen – all appear in limited roles in “Vera Drake.” As a sixteen-year-old movie addict, I opted to see “Vera Drake” solo in a Florida movie theatre with countless septuagenarians while my grandmother took my younger siblings to go see “Hitch.” I was wowed by the sheer emotional power of this film and by the strength of the performances in it. Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton, who should have won the award over a decently deserving Hilary Swank for “Million Dollar Baby,” is absolutely incredible, and I was awed by the way that she smiled in every scene for the first half of the film and then never regained that same joy in her face for the rest of it. The way Leigh makes his films is fascinating, having all of his actors create their characters and then build a movie based on what their characters would say. The magnificent period piece got nominated for Best Director and, impressively enough, Best Original Screenplay, even though there was no physical script. Having an idea of how it was made makes it even more of an astounding experience, and while it’s hardly uplifting, it is a must-see.

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