Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Sheri Boggs


Vera Drake never made it to Spokane. And at first, watching this cozy little slice of working- class London life, I had to wonder why. Stout, aging Vera (Imelda Staunton) bustles through a typical day -- visiting shut-ins, dusting the furniture of wealthier ladies, meeting old friends from before the War. When she finally returns home each night, she's greeted by her lower-middle-class family -- gruff but affectionate husband (Richard Graham), entrepreneurial son (Daniel Mays) and painfully awkward daughter (Alex Kelley). It's clear the Drakes need Vera as much as she needs them -- it's as if the entire household's limited circumstances suddenly become warm and cheering once she enters the room.


But as Vera makes one last stop on her daily rounds, suddenly it all becomes clear. Vera is an abortionist. Granted, she never calls it that and the duties she performs for free are intended as a rescue for desperate young girls "what find themselves in the family way" and have nowhere else to turn. The love underlying her actions, however, in some markets might be trumped by the political and moral overtones of the film as a whole.


Director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies) doesn't work from a prepared script, and the actors move throughout their scenes with an unstudied freshness. His attention to detail, though, is impeccably researched. His 1950 London is a harsh environment where tea and nylons are still scarce, wartime survival instincts haven't subsided and women's reproductive options were just about nil. Vera's "equipment," when finally unwrapped from its modest little basket, is horrific. A cheese grater, some scary-looking pink soap and a syringe are the basic tools of her trade.


Leigh is careful not to make a bold political statement so much as to tell the story of one woman whose acts -- no matter how innocent her intentions -- catch up with her. It's here where the film makes its only stumble -- Leigh focuses much too long on Staunton's stricken face when the audience already understands all too well what's taking place, still there are also moments that are transcendent and beautiful -- a shy young woman's radiant smile, her homely fiance's loyalty. Leigh has constructed something truly remarkable here.





Publication date: 04/21/05

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Pacifying the Future
  • Pacifying the Future

    A local homebuilder has embraced a design strategy that could be the future of buildings
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Surge Protectors
  • Surge Protectors

    Solar and wind power need batteries to be reliable; Demand Energy's software makes those batteries more efficient
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Innovation Station
  • Innovation Station

    Toolbox is a space for innovative products to grow
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Think & Drink: "Writing in the Margins: Race in Literature"

Think & Drink: "Writing in the Margins: Race in Literature" @ Lindaman's

Tue., April 28, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Sheri Boggs

  • Beer and Branding in PDX

    • Sep 15, 2005
  • Nightlife- Bands to Watch

    Gorilla and Rabbit Aside from the fact that you can't help but watch Gorilla and Rabbit, you really should keep an eye on them. As much of a part of the Spokane scene as the Makers, metal and mullets, these oversized stuffed toys have crank
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • Indigenous Cinema

    Blame it on Kevin Costner. While he may have had good intentions with Dances With Wolves, you gotta wonder how many American Indians in the audience were asking themselves, "Why is this guy telling our story?" And while Costner's effort was
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Restore the Honesty

    Re-establishing trust with the public will require courage on the part of our elected officials
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • Don't Test Me

    The Smarter Balanced standardized test has sparked a rebellion in Western Washington — and it's spreading
    • Apr 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation