Movies this good are a privilege. I saw Happy-Go-Lucky tonight, on Movie Monday, at the Sunshine Theater on Houston and was so excited for the experience that I accidentally arrived 40 minutes early. I didn't realize this until I entered the theater and saw the credits still rolling from the 4:00 showing... ha. This is exactly my favorite kind of movie and I just adored it. Every second.
Happy-Go-Lucky is centered around a very unlikely topic and a rarely portrayed character trait in films today: happiness. (Finally, say I!) Its not a comedy, really, and not a drama either. Its a pocket, a window, a porthole into this generous creature's life. I was so honored to be granted entrance.
Sally Hawkins stars as Poppy, a British school teacher, but don't take that as boring. Poppy is the least boring character I have encountered in a while, and one that I am dying to meet in real life. She gets pissed (as they say in London... drunk, if you're a New Yorker) with her girlfriends in one scene, then conducts a classroom of chirping first graders in the next. And its completely believable. Had this happened the other way around we may have disapproved, but as it stands we applauded Poppy for being both. We believed it because in neither role was she pretending. She truly believes in being herself one hundred percent, in the least obnoxious of manners. This, my friends, is tricky.
We tend to scoff the loud dressers, shush the gigglers, look down upon the goofy girls--and rightfully so. Persons of this personality often lack a real understanding of self and are reaching just north of comfortable. Not so for Poppy, whose slouchy boots and laced tights fit seamlessly in nightclubs and appropriately in the classroom. It's grace granted by confidence. Poppy is the anti-Bridget Jones. A true testament to what a chosen happiness and decided contentment can do for the single thirty-something English spinster.
She takes flamenco, trampolines weekly, shares wine with girlfriends, loves children, and isn't focused on finding a husband, or even a date. Sure, she wonders in passing where all the good men have gone, laughs with Zoe about how they are both are ready and willing. But its said with a smile and left with a shrug. Its something fun to look forward to, not a mountain to climb. And when she does go on a date, its not the center of her universe, or even her mindspace. Its fun! A great way to spend a Friday night! Nothing is looming and nothing should be.
The grit of this film exists in Poppy's trials and clear challenges. Her heart, so big, aches deeply when encountering the brokenhearted. If this were a Dickens novel, they would be called Doom, Fear, Bitterness, and Envy. (Dickens had it right-- life would be somewhat simpler if we could avoid friends called Callous and lovers named Greed, am I right?) In this case they are embodied by a jilted driving instructor, a schizophrenic homeless man, a fragile classroom bully, and her insecure pregnant sister. Poppy comes through with depth and a fluttering lightness-- so very refreshing. The rarity comes up again, which is so incredibly frustrating when considering that Poppy's goodness and happy-go-lucky demeanor are simply a choice. It shouldn't be rare, for it's is in all of us too.
This movie was life affirming. Life changing, even, as I told my friend Sarah afterward over chicken soup with crackers. Its a welcomed reminder that we can all live in this manner quite easily. And every one of us should go about doing so just as quickly as we can.