Monday Movie: All or Nothing
Every Monday, we’ll recommend a movie. It could be a classic, an overlooked recent treasure, an unfairly maligned personal favorite or whatever the hell we feel like.
Timothy Spall is currently huffing and puffing on movie screens all over the country in Mike Leigh’s big period piece biopic, Mr. Turner. It’s a very good performance in an above-average film and, despite working together for years, it’s the first time Spall has been a bona fide lead in one of Leigh’s movies. The closest he came in the past was 2002’s All or Nothing, generally considered a minor work in Leigh’s filmography. An ensemble piece concerning three working class families in the same apartment building, the film can be seen either as a bleak peace of neo-realism or a very dry dark comedy. Through the lens of Leigh’s liberal humanism, it’s really both. On the one hand, All or Nothing is a hard-nosed look at the tolls that being lower-class takes on a person economically, physically, socially, etc. On the other hand, it’s a surprisingly warmhearted film about the endurance of love, even when circumstances force people to neglect it for years. With a cast including Leigh regulars like Lesley Manville and Ruth Sheen plus an early performance from currently rising star James Corden (who’s terrific here), Spall emerges as the leader of the pack, especially in the final scenes, which are emotionally powerful enough to have even Mr. Turner reaching for the Kleenex.