Life is Sweet (1990)

The urge to remain individual within a family, and the relationship between the personal and the entrepreneurial, are among the themes that inform Mike Leigh’s touching comedy.

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Introduction

“Watching this movie made me realise how boring and thin many movies are; how they substitute plots for the fascinations of life.”
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, 1991

Life Is Sweet was Mike Leigh’s third film for cinema in the first two decades of a directing career spent primarily in television and the theatre. The script, devised through his famed improvisatory process, mixes food-related incidents: the opening of a restaurant, the purchase of a burger van, and the revelation of a young woman’s bulimia.

Through apparently humdrum struggles the film’s suburban Londoners, Jim Broadbent, Leigh’s then-wife Alison Steadman and their chalk-and-cheese adult twins Jane Horrocks and Claire Skinner, reveal hidden strengths.

This was Leigh’s first film with director of photography Dick Pope, subsequently a regular collaborator, and also the debut project from Thin Man Productions, which Leigh ran with his producer Simon Channing Williams until the latter’s death in 2009.

David Thewlis, who has a small role as the lover of Jane Horrocks’s Nicola, went on to become the focus of Leigh’s next feature, Naked (1993).

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