School teacher Poppy (Sally Hawkins) approaches every day with an optimism and joy that is unshakable. When the bicycle she commutes to work on is stolen, Poppy simply signs up for driving lessons. Her teacher, Scott (Eddie Marsan), is a fuming, uptight cynic who channels his anger into hilariously inappropriate episodes of road rage. But neither Scott, her bitter pregnant sister, a fiery flamenco instructor or a class room bully can change the Happy-Go-Lucky girl’s “glass half full” world view in writer-director Mike Leigh’s funny, truthful and deeply life-affirming film.
Happy-Go-Lucky is an adorable feel-good comedy that provides a welcome break from the majority of films that have been released recently. It’s a hilariously infectious film from writer and director Mike Leigh that is not only lighthearted but also real.
Happy-Go-Lucky tells the story of 30-year-old Poppy (Sally Hawkins), a free-spirited and eternally optimistic elementary school teacher. It doesn’t matter what life throws at Poppy, she doesn’t let it get her down. She’s not afraid to make jokes in awkward situations, wear brightly colored hippie clothes, or try new things. When Poppy’s bike gets stolen, the only regret she voices is that she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Left without a mode of transportation, Poppy decides to take driving lessons. Scott (Eddie Marsan), the driving instructor she is assigned to, is the exact opposite of Poppy. He’s crabby and constantly angry. Every Saturday, the two meet for the lesson and it’s an hour full of Scott yelling at Poppy to keep her eyes on the road, and Poppy trying to make small talk with Scott.
The rest of Poppy’s weeks are filled with teaching, hanging out with her flatmate and occasionally her sisters, and trying to make everyone around her smile. She genuinely cares about other people whether it’s her friends, her students, or complete strangers. While Poppy might seem like a bit of a flake, you can’t help but admire her carefree spirit and the fact that she takes up hobbies like trampolining and flamenco dancing. She may not be what society expects from a single woman her age, but Poppy is still the most adorable character I’ve seen in a long time.
The film was nominated for the 2009 Oscars (category – Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen) however Milk took home the award. Sally Hawkins was also nominated and took home the 2009 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. The entire cast does a wonderful job, but Sally as Poppy is casting at it’s best.
The ending will leave you with a smile on your face and wanting to see more of Poppy’s adorableness. It’s hands down a must see.
Review by Emma Loggins