COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 58min

STARRING: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan

Drive, he said: Hawkins and Marsan

Au naturel snapshots of everyday life are English writer-director Mike Leigh’s fine-tuned stock-in-trade. Leigh (Vera Drake) also has a winning way with actors and with Hawkins, he has found a rare bird wrapped up in a sunbeam.


As 30-year-old primary-school teacher Poppy, Hawkins is blithe, bonny and beaming — all those great B-words that add up to a must-watch prospect. Leigh, who doesn’t like to hurry or fuss, puts Poppy through her at times too-leisurely paces, with the likes of a girls’ night out, fun and games in the classroom, a splashy flamenco class and driving lessons with a persnickety instructor (Marsan).


As her days drift by, I was just starting to wonder where the film-maker was going with them, when the screenplay takes a stormy detour. The atmospheric jolt is due in no small part to an almighty power surge from Marsan that triggers a tonal switch no-one is likely to forget.