The Morning After: Sep. 29, 2014

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Vera Drake

Mike Leigh’s exploration of abortion in a post-World War II London brings together superb actors in a way that only Leigh seems to know how. The drama is light, but emotionally charged, which fits perfectly in his wheelhouse.

Anchored by a gentle, loving performance by Imelda Staunton, the story follows a middle class housewife who cares for the sick and injured while cleaning the houses of the upper class and providing for her family in a small apartment. As the titular character, Staunton delves into the generous spirit of a woman who has provided help for those less fortunate for more than twenty years. When one of her procedures sends a girl to the hospital, the police get involved and her world begins to unravel as her secret spills out to those around her.

Starting with 1996’s Best Picture-nominated Secrets & Lies, Leigh has received seven Oscar nominations for his own contributions, five in Best Original Screenplay and two in Best Director. This was his first film since Secrets to earn him nods in both categories. The film also earned Staunton a nod, which she should have competed more strongly for. Leigh’s elegance as a filmmaker is in his script outlines that he puts for his cast to flesh out the finer details, incorporating the impromptu things the actors come up with during table reads.

In a time when abortion has become a more significant issue, Vera Drake highlights the importance of keeping abortion safe and legal as it’s a far more widespread need than many who oppose it would want you to believe. It may be a decade later, but the significance and importance of this particular film makes it more relevant and necessary than ever.

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