Friday, February 17, 2006


I watched Vera Drake for the first time last night and thoroughly appreciated a moving, thoughtful and superbly acted feature. The tagline, ‘Wife. Mother. Criminal.’ sums up the film well; the double life led by the title character dominates the plot and narrative. However, the evocation of an austere post war England is for me the major charm of the film. Nobody has a great deal, cars and televisions are rarer than hens’ teeth and houses and flats are practical rather than comfortable or luxurious. However the sense of community in the London streets is so deep that a lack of consumer goods is not felt and the love of family and friends more than makes up for any poverty. It is telling that the unhappiest people in the film are those keenest to climb socially. Vera’s friend – and accomplice – Lily is ‘on the make’ and driven by a greed that renders her suspicious, bitter and miserable while the Drakes’ sister-in-law, Joyce, is the epitome of the aspirant new middle class that were to ‘never have it so good’. Her resultant shallowness, voracity and lack of beauty all echo a good deal of what I despair of in today’s Britain.

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