Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

Vera Drake

Imelda Staunton gives what is probably the greatest female performance of the year as a sweet-souled abortionist in 1950s England, offering tea and sympathy along with her strictly illegal (and unpaid) services to young women "in trouble." The law sees her otherwise, and her encounter with it breaks her spirit and our hearts. Writer-director Mike Leigh's bluntly realistic style has never been more aptly applied than it is in a story that is rich in the faintly comic, strangely touching details of lower-class English life in an era rife with hypocrisy.