Life is Sweet

Food as a means of expression is at the heart of this painfully funny film from British writer-director Mike Leigh (Bleak Moments, High Hopes). Dad (Jim Broadbent), Mum (Alison Steadman) and their grown twins, Natalie (Claire Skinner) and Nicola (Jane Horrocks), enjoy eating in front of the telly. But now anorexic Nicola has taken to bingeing in private. Dad, a chef, has bought a mobile snack bar and dreams of the road, while Mum helps pal Aubrey (Timothy Spall) open a gourmet restaurant in which he cooks such revolting dishes as pork cyst.

Within this exceptionally acted comic framework, Leigh dissects a family coming apart. In a specifically British idiom, Leigh again proves himself a world-class filmmaker. He achieves a universal resonance by showing how a look or a pained silence can capture what words cannot.

From The Archives Issue 617: November 14, 1991
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