Film: Bleak Moments pg rating Year: 1971
Bleak Moments DVD Cover
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Country: UK Genre: Drama
Director: Mike Leigh
Starring: Anne Raitt, Eric Allan, Liz Smith, Mike Bradwell

Also see our Guide to Mike Leigh, or visit our Mike Leigh UK or Mike Leigh US stores, or our reviews of other Mike Leigh films Career Girls, High Hopes, Life Is Sweet, Naked and Secrets and Lies.

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Bleak Moments Synopsis - Bleak Moments centres around Sylivia a young woman who by day works as a secretary in a small office and by night looks after her sister, Hilda, who is classed as having severe learning difficulties. Sylivia's life is relatively quiet and unusually two separate men show a degree of interest in her. The first is Peter, a teacher she knows only slightly. Sylvia goes on a date with Peter to a chinese restaurant which. Due to Peter's inability to overcome his innate shyness, it is something of a disaster, that doesn't improve when back at Sylvia's house, where crippled with shyness, it leaves him almost unable to speak, and certainly unable to respond to even the gentlest suggestions of the possibility of seduction. The other potential suitor is Norman, an inarticulate hippie, who runs a duplex machine for a subversive underground magazine in the garage rented out by Sylvia. But Norman himself is extremely nervous and as unlikely to be able to overcome this as Peter was.

Review of Bleak Moments - Mike Leigh's first film is a truly remarkable film. It is over an hour and a half of unremitting awkwardness. There are basically five main characters (the four mentioned above and Pat - Sylvia's work colleague) all of them have severe difficulty communicating, and thus social interaction, all of them are in a sense trapped by themselves in their situations. This uncomfortable awkwardness lasts all through the film and, to the directors and actors credit, is portrayed both realistically and seemingly effortlessly. In truth you would be hard pushed to find a film where there is less "action" than there is in this film, but of course that is an irrelevance when the superb character studies unfold so gloriously within the static.
The reasons I recommend Bleak Moments are: 1. Superb performances from the five main actors. 2. A hugely impressive film that superbly unfolds with its character studies.