Centered on a plucky, chirping elementary school teacher in North London, Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky may, at first, look like a great diversion from the Salford-born director's working-class, kitchen-sink-realism directing style. All the dark tones, greys, blacks, and dark greens are traded in for some bright blues, reds, and oranges. There are no house-call abortionists or down-on-their-luck families who only find hope in the next pint, just a chipper Finsbury Park bird who always looks at the brighter side.

That isn't to say that the world is not still a cold place in Leigh's latest, his tenth feature. Poppy (Sally Hawkins), the teacher in question, finds herself confronted with Leigh's dire real world from the very beginning. In the very first scene, Poppy finds herself in a Haringey bookstore getting snubbed by a self-serious, Burning Man reject too invested in a philosophy tome to speak. Returning to the street, in an open nod to De Sica's Bicycle Thieves and the first of several minor injustices Poppy must cope with, the peppy educator finds her bike stolen but can only cackle in disbelief at the crime.

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