“Happy Go Lucky” – Joanna Langfield reviews

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Mike Leigh’s wonderful coming of age tale is enough to drive some people crazy.

When we first meet Poppy, she is all too cheerfully biking, grinning in an almost loony way at whatever pops into her vision. When she returns from an awkward visit to a bookstore, finding her beloved bicycle stolen, she good naturedly laments, “I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye”. At this point, I wondered if Poppy was a bit “off” or simply the most annoying character to hit the screen in years.

Lesson learned. By me and, by film’s end, Poppy, too. Thanks to Leigh’s signature delicate power, and a knockout performance from Sally Hawkins, Poppy blossoms into adulthood, her eyes and heart slowly opening to the seriousness of life around her. Without sacrificing her integral good nature, Poppy grows from immature flower child into a wise but undaunted woman.

The entire cast here is superb, especially Eddie Marsan, who, as the understandably furious driving instructor, is key in Poppy’s awakening. And Hawkins will surely be on the circuit at awards time. But it’s more than the performances that make Happy Go Lucky so memorable. It’s Leigh’s subtle and sweet understanding of life that makes this one one of the best films so far this year.

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Joanna Langfield (Archived Contributor)

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).