High Hopes (1988) starring Philip Davis, Ruth Sheen, Edna Doré, Philip Jackson directed by Mike Leigh Movie Review

High Hopes (1988)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Philip Davis and Ruth Sheen in High Hopes (1988)

Highly Entertaining

Cyril (Phil Davis) and his girlfriend Shirley (Ruth Sheen) are socialists, knock backs to the 70s living in London during Thatcher's 80s. They despise what is happening to the place as the yuppies are taking over as in the street where Cyril's elderly mum, Mrs. Bender (Edna Doré), still lives in the one remaining council flat surrounded by pretentious yuppies who despise the poor. But it is not just the changing face of London which gets to Cyril and Shirley as his sister Valerie (Heather Tobias) is a social climbing conservative and she plans to throw their mum a 70th birthday party.

I am sure that when "High Hopes" came out it was more of a movie about the socialist struggle in the conservative 80s. But over 25 years later the entertainment of "High Hopes" is simply summed up by saying nothing is as queer as folk as we have fun from simply a whole load of over the top stereotypes. We have Cyril as a beardy, a 70s socialist whilst Valerie is middle class with ideals of being upper class and ending up looking tacky as she attempts to be posh. But then we also have the Boothe-Braines, the yuppie neighbours of Mrs. Bender who are idiotically over the top with their snooty ways.

Edna Doré in High Hopes (1988)

The thing is that the longer "High Hopes" goes on the more you begin to wonder what the point of it all is, where is this all leading. Whilst it does lead somewhere it in truth seems unimportant. Instead all it seems like is a comedy about how ridiculous these stereotypes are and they are funny but I wanted more and what more there is isn't enough which is a shame. Having said that the storyline about Mrs. Bender and her becoming increasingly forgetful is extremely moving.

Aside from that well you have to say the performances are what makes the movie with Philip Davis grinning like a mischievous child whilst Ruth Sheen is hilariously maternal when they end up caring for a young man called Wayne who is not all there and lost in London. But then there is also Lesley Manville who is so over the top as the snobbish Laetitia Boothe-Braine that it is painful, I mean painfully funny whilst also painful with her snooty barbs. I could go on because all the performances are good and Edna Doré as Mrs. Bender delivers the movies most touching performance.

What this all boils down to is that "High Hopes" is amusing because it is so ridiculously over the top when it comes to the stereotypes. Well that and the nostalgia of the 80s with some strange memories of the interior design being as bad as the fashion.