Life Is Sweet (1990) starring Alison Steadman, Jim Broadbent, Claire Skinner, Jane Horrocks directed by Mike Leigh Movie Review

Life Is Sweet (1990)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Alison Steadman and Timothy Spall in Life Is Sweet (1990)

Not Sweet at All

Andy (Jim Broadbent) is a chef who always seems to have an excuse for not doing jobs around the home but his wife Wendy (Alison Steadman) doesn't mind as she always looks on the positive side of things, laughing at everything often with an innuendo thrown in for good measure. Their twin daughters couldn't be more different as whilst Natalie (Claire Skinner) has a job as a plumber her sister Nicola (Jane Horrocks) is a moody little minx who finds an excuse to moan about anything.

If performances made a movie "Life is Sweet" would have swept the board and won every award under the sun. But a movie is more than just about the performances and this is where "Life is Sweet" comes undone as it doesn't really have a storyline but is more of a dysfunctional slice of embellished life. There are some dramas in there as Nicola has an eating disorder which she attempts to keep hidden whilst there is Andy going to work for a restaurant but it doesn't engage you like some of Mike Leigh's other movies with it ending up feeling like a collection of actors doing their thing but never really working together.

As such you have Alison Steadman giving you a knock off "Carry On" performance with her incessant laughing and occasional innuendo and then you have Jane Horrocks not just going over the tip as a moody teen but ridiculously over the top and delivering one of the weirdest erotic scenes you will ever see. And then there is Timothy Spall who looks like he has modelled his character on Timmy Mallet and is ridiculously over the top. If you were to take each performance as a separate entity they work but together it becomes too much, too over the top.

What this all boils down to is that "Life is Sweet" just didn't work for me and whilst it is typical Leigh in style and subject the nature of the characters is too much for the movie and it ends up painful due to the over the top performances.