'Happy-Go-Lucky' tries to sell the idea that you should take life with a smile, no matter how hard things can look. Sadly, life is not a Mike Leigh movie and if you try to behave like Poppy, someone will punch you right in your face.
Where has there been a better argument for staying positive than with the case of the driving instructor? Those lesson scenes were the most interesting, while the climactic scene where he goes over the edge is arresting.
The characters are real and played excellently with funny lines here and there. But I must warn you, Do not watch this if you have a headache. I was watching it with a headache, hoping that it'll cure it (being read the reviews about how warm and light-hearted this movie is). Unfortunately for me, my headache gotten worst.
I love love love Poppy and Sally Hawkins as Poppy!!! If I ever happen to see Hawkins on the street I might have to accost her with a hug. I was afraid the film might turn into a glib piece of fluff, but it's anything but. With Mike Leigh at the helm, I should have known. It's a lovely film that leaves me in a Zen-like state of calm by the end of it.
Having worked in a bookstore for 7 1/2 years I have been that guy in the opening and have certainly dealt with customers like Poppy. I so did not want to like her and yet Leigh, as he always does, made me fall in love with her by the end.
The scene with the homeless man is classic.