Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look48.89%
Just Average: 15.56%
Pretty Crappy: 2.22%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 21 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Siege of Firebase Gloria, The by Jack Sommersby

Wild Geese II by Jack Sommersby

Trial of the Chicago 7, The by Peter Sobczynski

Way I See It, The by Jack Sommersby

Kajillionaire by Peter Sobczynski

Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold by Jack Sommersby

12 Hour Shift by Jay Seaver

Firewalker by Jack Sommersby

Death Wish V: The Face of Death by Jack Sommersby

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment by Jack Sommersby

subscribe to this feed

Vera Drake
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Elaine Perrone

"Once again, Mike Leigh shines a light on secrets and lies."
5 stars

The key to "Vera Drake" is in its closing credits, in Mike Leigh's dedication of the film to the loving memory of his parents, a doctor and a midwife. Still, far from being a treatise on abortion rights, "Vera" is an exquisitely sensitive, well-balanced, and often wrenching portrayal of the moral dilemma of abortion and its ripple effect upon families and communities.

Vera (Imelda Staunton) is a kind-hearted dumpling for whom the term "idle hands" is anathema. She is always bustling, whether polishing the fireplace grates of her well-heeled employers, putting up a cup of tea for a wheelchair-bound neighbor, popping in to care for her aged mother, or inviting in a stray bachelor, Reg (Eddie Marsan), for a proper meal. There's plenty of playful affection in her decades-long marriage to Stan (Phil Davis), and her family is happy, despite their needing all the resources of her salary, her husband's, and those of their two grown children, Sid and Ethel (Daniel Mays, Alex Kelly), to make ends meet in post-war London.

Unbeknownst to everyone is Vera's illicit sideline occupation: Helping young girls in trouble end their unwanted pregnancies by pumping a solution of carbolic soap into their uteruses to induce miscarriage. Although conflicted by the illegality of what she is doing, Vera believes strongly in the value of her services, which, like all her good deeds, she performs briskly and without compensation or fanfare for years before being caught out when the daughter of the one woman who knows her name is hospitalized for complications.

To the bewilderment of her family, the police arrive on their doorstep to question Vera, interrupting a party in celebration of Reg and Ethel's engagement and, ironically, the impending parenthood of Stan's brother Frank (Adrian Scarborough) and his acquisitive wife Joyce (Heather Craney).

Without explanation to any of the family, who are at a complete loss as to what is happening or why, Vera is taken to the police station where she is interrogated and held overnight, and where she finally confesses her secret to her stunned husband. After being released on bail, the traumatized Vera returns home to await her trial and spend a bleak Christmas with her family, all of whose emotions are in turmoil.

With its explosive topic, "Vera Drake" could, in lesser hands, easily have deteriorated into a black-and-white study of good versus evil. In those of Mike Leigh, it is an exquisitely woven tapestry filled with a rich assortment of characters about whose complexities we come to care a great deal.

While bound by the letter of the law, the police inspector and women's police constable (Peter Wight, Helen Coker) who question and detain Vera are extraordinarily sensitive to her plight and deeply respectful in their treatment of her.

Leigh includes an absorbing sub-plot about a young woman, Susan (Sally Hawkins), the daughter of one of Vera's wealthy employers, who is date-raped and impregnated, then coached by a doctor on how to obtain a legal abortion, for which she can easily afford to pay.

Vera's lifelong friend and literal partner-in-crime, Lily (Ruth Sheen), is a no-nonsense woman who makes her living in the black market, selling tea, tinned fish, and sugar and pocketing "finder's fees" from the pregnant women of lesser means, whom she in turn refers to Vera, never letting on that money has changed hands.

The emotions in Vera's own family run the gamut -- often in surprising ways -- from distaste to sympathetic understanding, from horror or fury to unalloyed support. Imelda Staunton is a revelation as Vera, distraught at the humiliation she has rained down upon her family but steadfast in her belief that she has done right to help girls in trouble who have no legal recourse. She tells the sympathetic police inspector, who tries to get her to admit performing abortions, "No, that's not what I do, Dear. That's what you call it."

I see many Oscar nominations in "Vera Drake's" future, chief among them ones for Staunton's shattering performance and Leigh's notoriously intense direction and beautifully crafted screenplay. No less worthy are the costumers, make-up artists, art directors, and set decorators who have brought back to life London after the Blitz and done wonderful justice to Leigh's ensemble of finely drawn characters.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11017&reviewer=376
originally posted: 10/22/04 18:42:16
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 New York Film Festival. For more in the 2004 New York Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/25/08 Gut Wrench The martyrdom of Saint Vera of the Abortions 2 stars
6/07/07 fools♫gold I think to myself, "Is 'Land of the Dead' much better than this?" 4 stars
12/19/06 William Goss A tremendously terrific ensemble, esp. Staunton, lend tremendous weight to abortion drama. 4 stars
5/29/06 Martin Shutkever Great atmosphere of 1950's England 4 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Leigh helms one of the best of 2004. What else did you expect? 4 stars
6/26/05 Lawrence Volpe Wonderful cast, brilliant acting in particular by Imelda Stauton 4 stars
6/14/05 Janglepuppy Good film, Imelda Staunton is incredible in it. 4 stars
4/17/05 Phil M. Aficionado I agree with EricD, and just wish there were a 4.5 point rating category 5 stars
3/20/05 albert the definite stanton role 5 stars
3/11/05 jcjs wonderful 5 stars
3/11/05 Nick Boyd very realistic and well-acted 5 stars
2/26/05 matthew smith a fine actors piece, well crafted. 4 stars
2/23/05 Jenna Furr EricD can't stand fart humor; expects abortion movies to be funny. Ay, Caramba! 4 stars
2/21/05 Hilary Adamson Must be a true story; else they wouldn't've made her initials VD. 4 stars
2/10/05 Jenny Compulsory viewing 5 stars
2/05/05 lili shefer An inteligent humanistic work of art 5 stars
2/04/05 oOParkerOo Too long, no story and left me with strange aftertaste. Good acting though 3 stars
12/07/04 Heather Imelda Staunton deserves an Oscar nomination 5 stars
11/08/04 DM A little slow at points, but it leaves quite an impression 4 stars
11/07/04 Robert V. Mack Great! 5 stars
11/02/04 carola awesome 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  10-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 29-Mar-2005



Directed by
  Mike Leigh

Written by
  Mike Leigh

  Imelda Staunton
  Richard Graham
  Eddie Marsan
  Anna Keaveney
  Alex Kelly
  Daniel Mays

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast