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Vera Drake (2004)Vera Drake (2004)

Vera Drake (2004)

Women’s rights and class collide in Mike Leigh’s immaculate period piece

Drama

best
THE VERY BEST

8.6

movie

France, UK

English

Depressing, Tear-jerker, Thought-provoking

2004

Mike Leigh

Adrian Scarborough, Alan Williams, Alex Kelly

125 min

Synopsis

Abortionist Vera Drake finds her beliefs and practices clash with the mores of 1950s Britain – a conflict that leads to tragedy for her family.

Our Take

8.6
Igor Fishman

Mike Leigh’s forthright and compassionate depiction of working-class life extends to his period pieces as well. Imelda Staunton is remarkable as Vera Drake, a housekeeper in 1950’s London who quietly performs abortions on the side.

Leigh’s vigilant portrayal of class highlights the stark divide between abortion access for the poor and what is offered to the rich. The storytelling is simple and straightforward, he doesn’t over-sentimentalize or grandstand, but merely depicts conditions as they were. Meanwhile, Staunton’s Vera oozes so much fullness, warmth, and empathy, that the heartbreak that follows is mercilessly palpable. 

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