Thursday, October 30, 2008
Alan Smithee rarely sees a film that makes him think. This is partly because most films aren't trying to say anything (or they're trying, but failing), and partly because Alan Smithee only has a short window of time each day during which he can do heavy thinking, to wit, the period beginning after his morning coffee kicks in up until the time when he needs to go down for his nap.
Even with limited time to think, Alan Smithee understood that Happy-Go-Lucky is not "an exuberant comedy," and the main character, Poppy, does not have "an innate effervescence that plays off beautifully against adversity." (Entertainment Weekly)
Something else is going on. The viewer gets to know Poppy by watching how she handles different situations. Though she is "happy-go-lucky," she still has to be an adult in the world, and the viewer can almost see her making decisions at crucial moments. The film fascinates because, to borrow from Flannery O'Connor, everything is rendered, nothing is told.
The critics have praised Sally Hawkins' performance, but take note of the uniformly excellent work by all the supporting players. Alan Smithee fell in love a little bit with Poppy's relatively jaded roommate Zoe, but he is almost fully recovered now.