I read a piece recently where Leigh acknowledged his pride for this film - rightly so: such an uncompromising aesthetic at work here. The performances capture sharply and unsentimentally the seemingly unbridgeable gap between people. Presumably this is also the result of the improvisatory development process which, unlike some of his later work, does not lapse into something too mannered. Excruciating, funny and sad.
I'm a huge fan of Leigh and have seen all his films. Recently watched this for the second time and it's terrific. The lead actress is outstanding and I'm amazed she didn't go on to bigger things. Sometimes its too painful to watch the embarrassment. Outstanding debut from a master filmmaker.
Beautifully shot and lit (in a bleak kind of way). Marvellous portrayal of London life in early seventies surburbia. Autism was little known and understood, so in a way, Sylvia is a pariah. I feel for her, especially when the teacher spurns her. Mike Leigh's first film. Quintessentially British ...
Time hasn't been kind to the audio recording, but Mike Leigh's cinema of heightened character quirks is fully formed here and straight from theatre -unrooted in documentary, it's nothing like the 'realism' of Ken Loach or Maurice Pialat. Contorted by awkwardness, truth comes in spurts, and in an accumulation of desperation. The characters all matter; the sherry moment and the trouser moment are bitingly poignant.
Sylvia: “I was just saying something to you in my head...it was quite amusing...” - ha! This is brilliant, so funny, so sad. Can’t get more real. The characters created are exceptional, subtle & true in every single movement, each flicker of the eye. That restaurant scene - too good. A lesson on living your life or risk getting crippled by a fear of your own breathing! And a bottle of sherry for 59 pence. Winner.