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Mike Leigh's improvisational method of film making is used to great effect in this darkly comic slice of family life. Parents Wendy (Alison Steadman) and Andy (Jim Broadbent) live with their adult twin daughters Nicola and Natalie in suburban London. Natalie, a plumber's assistant, is permanently optimistic while Nicola is unemployed, bucking against convention and full of self-loathing. Steadman is magnificent as the resilient Mum holding the family together in this very funny and poignant slice of family life, observing the relationships between parents and children, neighbours and community.


Writer/director Mike Leigh is on top form in this superbly observed satire on late-Thatcherite Britain. The wincingly funny and socially astute script touches on such issues as bulimia, free enterprise and social ambition without ever labouring the point. Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent are outstanding as the thoroughly decent working-class couple who watch their daughters develop with a mixture of pride and regret. Jane Horrocks does Essex slacker teen with great conviction, while Claire Skinner impresses as her tomboy sister, and Timothy Spall is sweatily repellent as a wannabe restaurateur. Naked and Secrets and Lies won the prizes, but this is perhaps Leigh's finest work.

David Parkinson, Radio Times Film Guide

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