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Sally Hawkins is a real delight in Mike Leigh’s new film as Poppy, a 30-year-old Londoner with a bubbly nature and an ever-present laugh that teeters between lovable and annoying. Hawkins’ performance, and Leigh’s harnessing of it, is a tease: when we first see Poppy, cycling through the West End and joking with a grumpy bookshop assistant before joining her friends for a late-night drunken session, we don’t know what to make of her. She’s loud, joyful and indulges in terrible jokes; surely there’s something wrong with her?
Poppy is a mirror to us all: if we find her blind optimism and sunny nature hard to swallow, perhaps there’s something wrong with us instead? By then, too, we know that Poppy is not the blinkered soul we may first think: she is compassionate, perceptive and harbours her own sadnesses like the rest of us.
* Behind The Wheel: The Making of Happy Go Lucky
* Mike Leigh's Characters
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