Sally Hawkins has already won a ton of awards this season (including most recently, the Golden Globe) for the role that will finally make most Americans go "what do I know that girl from...oh I know!". In Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky" she plays the effervescent Poppy, a woman who actually loves her life. She acknowledges that she has "great friends, great kids" (she's an elementary school teacher) and, in general is happy enough upon waking up in the morning to not groan and complain, like I sometimes have a tendency to do. She's not a superhero, she's not a genius, but she revels in her everyday existence, a feat I hope to accomplish. Not to say that there aren't many many moments of happiness, but I find her constant geniality something to strive for, especially while sitting in the car amongst traffic and muttering "Idiots!"
In fact, it's driving that starts off Poppy's story. We pick up on a not so particular day where Poppy's bike is stolen, forcing her to find another mode of transportation. Scott (Eddie Marsan) is Poppy's driving instructor and her polar opposite, emptying Poppy's constantly half-full glass.
Poppy will have no one rain on her parade, and the story that follows is very similar to a day-in-the-life, until the pivotal moment that you don't see coming, and which, I have to admit, is almost haunting. There's something that does stick with you, if you're of the cynical nature, as I am, but clearly, this doesn't phase Poppy.
I admit that I was expecting something more upbeat from a film with the title "Happy-Go-Lucky" but maybe what we're to take away from Leigh's realistic take on positivity. Maybe what we're supposed to take away is that life is made up of the moments that make us happy and the moments that happen by sheer luck.
Hawkins is completely engaging, and deserving of the nominations that have and will be coming her way, there's something so easy about her performance that it does almost feel like a documentary in moments. There's nothing flashy or super-special-effects about Happy-Go-Lucky, just an interesting story with a different way of looking at every day life. Refreshing in a world where movies either have to have a Michael Bay by-line or Jerry Bruckheimer endorsement to win box-office gold. I can't recommend it for all, I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but there's something nice about the way it unfolds and if you're slightly curious, it's probably worth the watch.
3.5 out of 5 smiley faces