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All Or Nothing

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: All Or Nothing

Starring: Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville
Director: Mike Leigh
Rated: R
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Alison Garland, James Corden, Ruth Sheen, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Sam Kelly, Kathryn Hunter, Sally Hawkins

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Fancy a real downer? SECRETS & LIES's writer/director Mike Leigh is back with ALL OR NOTHING, another one of his depressing tales of working-class life in Britain. He lays it on so thick this time that it feels like a suicide race. Who will it be first? Will a member of the audience or one of the characters in his movie become so affected by the morose story that he takes his life?

This much is certain -- even if the movie is a bit much, the acting is uniformly excellent. Although Timothy Spall, as taxi driver Phil Bassett, has the showiest part, Lesley Manville, as his wife Penny, steals the picture with her quiet compassion and her repressed anger.

The Bassetts live in graffiti-infested public housing along with other members of the story. From alcoholism to heart attacks, the characters face a world of troubles. American audiences may have difficulty parsing some of the dialog given the thick accents and the proclivity of the actors to mumble their lines just above a whisper. Fights are good since these are loud and easy to understand. Leigh is so gifted at capturing facial images that the dialog frequently takes a backseat anyway. And speaking of backseats, the best parts of the picture are all of the vignettes of the passengers in Phil's cab.

My audience laughed a lot, but I found the film relentlessly bleak. For me, its message is best summed up by Phil when he tells one of his fares, "We're all going to die one day." Watching ALL OR NOTHING, it felt like it would be sooner rather than later.

ALL OR NOTHING runs too long at 2:08. It is rated R for "pervasive language and some sexuality" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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