'Meantime' offers one of the most honest depictions of suffocating domesticity. This is a languidly paced slice-of-life film where Mike Leigh leaves no stone unturned to give us a raw representation of financial hopelessness and social disenchantment in Margaret Thatcher's England. The film mostly follows the members of the Pollocks, a working class London family who live in a state of perennial stagnation. Everyone is unemployed and the whole family has no option but to survive on the weekly dole provided by the government. The members of the family namely Frank, Mavia and the brothers Mark & Colin do very little apart from sitting on the sofas of their cramped apartment and watching television. Leigh takes his time to capture the disillusionment, the constant sense of internal humiliation and jealousy that exists in this household. Once we leave the apartment, Leigh introduces us to a few other characters like the idiosyncratic skinhead Coxy, the really shy neighbourhood girl Hayley(whom Colin crushes over) and of course the John & Barbara who are related to the Pollocks by way of Barbara being Mavia's sister. Leigh enriches the film by giving each of the characters in the film their own unique traits and behavioral tendencies which only add to the raw grounded realism. There is a clear indication of clash between classes in the very opening scene where the viewer can feel the tension caused by the jealousy of Frank and Mavia for having to spend time in the suburban home of John and Barbara who at times inadvertently make Frank and Mavia conscious of the financial contrasts between the two families. There is also a scene involving Coxy and a black man in an elevator which is filled to the brim with racially charged tension. But in an overall sense Leigh is trying to convey that when society as a whole goes through a period of cultural decadence and economic stagnation, the class struggles and racial tension is a possible eventuality. From a visual standpoint, Leigh makes the apartment rooms look as cramped up, restrictive and claustrophobic as possible. He extensively uses close-ups of characters' faces in pretty much every scene to capture reactions. The visual style is a deliberate attempt to complement and convey the sense of entrapment experienced by the characters. The acting as expected is very naturalistic. Tim Roth deserves special mention for expertly portraying the character of the 'slow' Colin. He conveys a lot without words, with the help of his expressive eyes. 'Meantime' can seem a little too dour and depressing for some viewers. But just like the Italian neo-realist films of the 40s and 50s, this is a film that has one solitary intention which is to capture the essence and spirit of an ailing contemporary society with very little hope. It showcases the effects of the all- encompassing forces of poverty and cultural aimlessness. It's not cheery, but it isn't meant to be. It is what it is and I believe it achieves success in being what it is.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
When one brother gets a job from their wealthy aunt, the other becomes increasingly jealous.
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April 7, 2019