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PCR # 254  (Vol. 6, No. 5)  This edition is for the week of January 31--February 6, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Vera Drake"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Vera Drake"
 by Mike Smith
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Fine Line Features     
Starring: Imelda Staunton, Richard Graham and Phil Davis
Directed by: Mike Leigh
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 5 mins

Vera Drake (Staunton) is a wife, mother, daughter and friend to all who know her. She is not above chatting with a neighbor, finding him or her down on their luck, and inviting them to her home for a family dinner and some companionship. She has a kind heart and goes out of her way to help people. And, if you are a young woman "in trouble," Vera will help you, too.

Nominated this year for three Academy Awards, "Vera Drake" is another fine film from director Mike Leigh. Like his earlier film, "Secrets and Lies," Leigh builds his story with a combination of great dialogue and acting. In fact, two of the Oscar nominations belong to Leigh for his script and directing. The third belongs to Staunton. Probably best known in America as Gwyneth Paltrow's nurse in "Shakespeare in Love," Staunton delivers a quiet yet powerful performance as a woman who sees nothing wrong in what she is doing. Kind to a fault, she goes out of her way to assure her patients that soon their lives will be their own again. She takes no money for her services. She does what she does out of sense of duty. Her method is quick and generally safe. As a contrast, the daughter of the woman Vera works for finds herself in trouble and must go through many lengths to achieve the same end. The moral here, if there is one, seems to be that rich or poor, we all could find ourselves in trouble some day. It is only our place in society that deems how we get out of that trouble.

Director Leigh shows he has a keen eye for detail. His vision of London, circa 1950, is of a cold, wintry city, but one that is full of life. And kudos to composer Andrew Dickson, whose music underscores the story beautifully. But the main attraction here is Staunton. With Hillary Swank and Annette Bening seemingly in a two person race for the Best Actress Oscar, Staunton could emerge as the dark horse. Whether chatting with her family over tea or weeping at the prospects of a possible prison sentence, she commands the screen as few actresses this year have.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Vera Drake"  Three and a half stars

This week's movie review of "Vera Drake" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.