[Movie] High Hopes (1988)

  • Directed by: Mike Leigh
  • Cast: Phil Davis, Ruth Sheen, Edna Doré, Philip Jackson

The film is about the life of a working-class couple living in London. The “class” seems quite out-of-date, but the movie is quite interesting in depicting complicated relationships of the couple with neighbors and other family members.

The movie evolves with a senior lady and three couples. It has full of English senses of humor and depiction of different English classes. Quite an English movie! It is amusing how three couples talk, act, and think differently. There is a middle-class couple who acts like middle-class, but you find them not as polite and good-hearted as you might generally assume. There is another couple who has money and tries to act or spend like middle-class – Nouveau Riche -. You only find them funny, absurd, or pathetic. And finally, there is a working-class couple who thinks about society and life seriously. Cyril, the main male character, is a Marxist but is somewhat lost and does not act.

The division of classes and portraits of them seem pretty stereotypical and over-generalized, which might be the limitation or the strength of a black comedy.

Also, it is important to notice the social condition in England at the time of the movie-making. It was the era of the Thatcher administration and the collapse of many working-class people. The gentrification of the old working community had been an issue for a while (even now).

The film shows us the dark side of our family and society. Life seems comical and has full of contradictions. All characters in the movie do not understand the lifestyle or the perspective of the life of others, which is not a level of misunderstanding but the conception is just different. But the theme is always optimistic, as the title suggests. We can still trust the liberal ideals of the working class.

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