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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, May 12, 2003
    All or Nothing
     
    In Mike Leigh's All or Nothing Phil (Timothy Spall) is searching for respect. It takes a combination of an unexpectedly precious conversation with a customer in his cab, and the shock of finding his young son in Intensive Care with a heart attack, to bring his long-time insecurities to the surface.

    The brilliantly-observed story concludes with a resolution of sorts, between him and his tidy, long-suffering wife, and the other family members as they struggle, for the first time ever, to find ways to express their care for each other. Before that it'd always been a struggle just to get by.
      The conclusion to a seemingly pessimistic film is a hard-won affirmation.
    - wrote the Observer's Philip French:
      Unlike Ken Loach, Leigh doesn't appear to hold society and capitalism responsible for his characters' misery. What they lack - or perceive themselves to lack - is love, tenderness and understanding. Simple to the point of naivety perhaps, but an opinion shared by The Beatles and Philip Larkin.
    I watched this film tonight. And I saw nothing simple about the characters in this comedy of bad manners; rather, great insight into the stuff that goes on in the lives of cab drivers, checkout women, care assistants, council-estate layabouts, everyone, all the time. Perceptive. Respectful. Mike Leigh.