Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vera Drake

Vera Drake is British filmmaker Mike Leigh's 2004 release that features a powerhouse performance from Imelda Staunton. The setting is England in 1950 and Staunton plays the title character who goes about her life as a perky and ideal housewife of the time. She makes ends meet as a maid, always has a kettle on the stove, and performs illegal abortions for those who cannot afford them. Vera Drake is not made in a sensationalized manner but rather as a window into the day-to-day life of this woman and those around her. I actually found the first half to be on the slow side, while the second half turns devastating and packs a wallop. It is impossible to remove your stare from Staunton's face as it is consumed with sadness and fear yet still remains kind and pleasant. Vera Drake takes a difficult subject and puts a human face on the controversy.