Pauline "Poppy" Cross is an overly joyful elementary school teacher living in London. ...
Pauline "Poppy" Cross is an overly joyful elementary school teacher living in London. For 10 years she has resided in the same flat with her best friend, and fellow teacher Zoe (Alexis Zegerman). At 30 years old, Zoe insists that Poppy must soon move on, get married, and start a family in order to be truly happy. Poppy disagrees, however, and assures her roommate that she could not be happier – and she appears to be telling the truth or is she? Case in point – early in the film she visits a local bookstore and attempts to cheer up its grumpy owner. He is clearly un-amused, however, and her overly joyous demeanor merely sickens him further. Without skipping a beat she finishes her transaction with him and heads outside, only to find her bicycle missing. Rather than get upset, or even calling the police, she happily brushes it off, and sees it as some kind of omen to begin driving. Poppy has never been behind the wheel of a car in her 30 years on earth. To get started she enlists the help of Scott (Eddie Marsan), a dead serious, paranoid, and racist driving instructor obsessed with conspiracy theories. From the beginning their relationship is rocky and, like the storeowner earlier, he is repulsed by her giddiness. Nevertheless, and like every grump she encounters, Poppy makes an attempt to cheer him up. While an ordinary person would have found a new driving school, Poppy returns each week, much to the chagrin of Scott. Repeatedly throughout the film viewers may question Poppy's sincerity. Outwardly, it seems that she is well intentioned and on a crusade for joy. Still, she must be aware that she appears obnoxious to many, and in fact, increases their bitterness tenfold. On the other hand she does have moments where her sincerity is generally unquestionable. For example, she becomes particularly concerned with the well being of a mischievous pupil with a tendency to start fights. With the help of a social worker, Tim (Samuel Roukin) she manages to get to the root of the boy’s troubles; she also finds a potential soul mate in Tim, and a relationship begins to blossom. She will nonetheless need to confront her excessively cheerful attitude before the film ends. On one front this partially realized epiphany will be delivered by Zoe, and on the other from Scott during a heated, final confrontation. By no means is Happy-Go-Lucky a slapstick comedy along the lines of Mr. Bean, though it may occasionally seem headed in that direction; as with director Mike Leigh's previous films social commentary is not forgotten. Happy-Go-Lucky was lauded by critics, earning an amazing 100% fresh rating amongst top reviewers at the popular aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. On the award circuit it earned a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nomination. Rating: Rated R for harsh language.