In 1950s London, Vera Drake goes on her way, bustling cheerily around, cleaning for the upper classes, looking after her family and friends and helping young women to end unwanted pregnancies. Her lifestyle is modest but happy until the police begin to close in.
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We all know Imelda Staunton gives a performance for the ages, but I think I broke when she started calling the arresting officer "dear." In the midst of her arrest, a clear strain on her mental and physical health, she's still the kindest woman in the world. That, and the understanding her and Leigh have that Vera's devastation is not about guilt for what she has done, but for leaving her family. She's a saint.
Maybe I'm just a sucker, but I was crying half the film. Bonus: sweater vests aplenty. Need to re-visit the Chabrol-Huppert collaboration of the same subject. I still prefer Leigh in his contemporary surroundings, and have put this off for a long time, but many cheers for the period piece. I'm glad I finally watched it. It's devastating. No longer afraid to Topsy and Turner.
This is a good piece of the british realism, as a raw portrait of a human story, the story of the good will of a simple woman. Staunton is remarkable with an intense performance. The film only lakes a good, coherent ending, able to fully represent the moral ambiguity of the central character's position.