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Saturday, May 28, 2022
Leigh’s second theatrical feature, a narratively surprising and incisive work of social realism, follows Cyril (Phil Davis) and Shirley (Ruth Sheen), a left-wing working-class couple, as they interact with a range of characters across the spectrum of classes in English society and look after Cyril’s aging mother (Edna Doré). As the film proceeds, Leigh presents layer upon layer of complication as we encounter a man (Jason Watkins) who has come to town in search of work, Cyril’s nouveau riche sister Valerie (Heather Tobias) and her adulterous husband, and Cyril’s mother’s well-to-do next-door neighbors (Lesley Manville and David Bamber). Tensions flare as Cyril’s mother’s descent into dementia becomes more pronounced and Shirley entertains the idea of having a baby, with Leigh laying bare both the futile striving of the lower-middle class and the oblivious grotesquerie of the upper-middle class. An NYFF26 selection. 2K Restoration. A Janus Films release.