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Life Is Sweet (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Alison Steadman, Jim Broadbent, Claire Skinner, Jane Horrocks
  • Directors: Mike Leigh
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: May 28, 2013
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BJB2H1E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,991 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Life Is Sweet (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio
  • New audio commentary featuring director Mike Leigh
  • Audio recording of a 1991 interview with Leigh
  • PLUS: A booket featuring an essay by critic David Sterritt and more!

  • Editorial Reviews

    This moving film from Mike Leigh (Topsy-Turvy) is an intimate, invigorating, and amusing portrait of a working-class family in a suburb just north of London—an irrepressible mum and dad (Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent) and their night-and-day twins, a bookish good girl and a sneering layabout (Claire Skinner and Jane Horrocks). In it, Leigh and his typically brilliant cast create, with extra­ordinary sensitivity and craft, a vivid, lived-in story of ordinary existence, in which even modest dreams (such as the father’s desire to open a food truck) carry enormous weight. Perched on the line between humor and melancholy, LIFE IS SWEET is captivating, and it was Leigh’s first international sensation.

    Customer Reviews

    It has some amazing performances from the entire cast.
    B. Dayton
    These rehearsals often contain improvisation and suggestions from the cast which results in a unique cinematic experience with characters offering great depth.
    A Customer
    It would be truer to say that she is willing to let people go as far as they can in pursuit of whatever dreams and aspirations they might have.
    Stanley Crowe

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A. Kelly on September 29, 2000
    Format: VHS Tape
    Unlike with novelists or musicians, I don't often follow the work of particular directors. But Mike Leigh is an exception. His ability to bring out the best in actors--or his willingness to let them alone to do their best--and then form all the performances into a cohesive movie seems amazing to me. But he not only has confidence in his actors; he has confidence in his audience as well. What results are movies on a human scale, intelligent and revealing.
    "Life Is Sweet," like "Secrets and Lies," is one of Leigh's more commercial efforts (as opposed to, say, "Naked"). But "Life" is much lighter and funnier. In this story, there are also family secrets, and difficulties and disappointments, but it never strays far from its title argument: that after all, life IS sweet.
    Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge, Topsy-Turvy) and Alison Steadman (Pride and Prejudice, Abigail's Party, and Leigh's real-life wife) play Andy and Wendy, a middle-class suburban English couple. They're loving and hardworking parents, but still young enough themselves to dissolve into laughing fits on the sofa or tease each other to their horror of their daughters.
    Andy produces his own minor crisis when his self-employment ambitions take the form of a ratty refreshments van, sold to him by a hilariously untrustworthy Stephen Rea. At the same time, Wendy takes on yet another part-time job when she offers to waitress at a friend's new restaurant--an episode so filled with Timothy Spall's manic efforts that it really defies words.
    But the real story in "Life Is Sweet" centers around Andy and Wendy's twin daughters, in their early twenties. Natalie, played by Claire Skinner (Almost Strangers, Naked) is the calm, dry center of the family storm.
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    20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By RALPH PETERS on June 30, 2000
    Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
    Director/writer Mike Leigh's working methods are, by now, legendary. He customarily gathers his hand-chosen cast well before filming begins to flesh out characters on their own based on his outline of events and then encourages improvisation to allow the performer to inhabit the character, rather than a stock, lifeless portrayal. The actors aren't the only ones to benefit from this theatre-like approach to filmmaking; Leigh's core audiences eagerly await each entry to his already estimable canon with great anticipation. While SECRETS AND LIES is more dramatic and TOPSY TURVY more cinematic, for me LIFE IS SWEET is the most memorable of his films. Perhaps its the sweet, world-weary musical score from the wonderful Rachel Portman. Or the concentration on just a few days in the lives of a working-class British family and their small circle of friends. Not to mention the miraculous performances of Jane Horrocks as the anguished Nicola--half of a twin sister set (the sublimely droll Claire Skinner is her offset) and the triumphant, life-affirming work of Alison Steadman (Leigh's real-life spouse) as Wendy, the earth-mother with seemingly limitless patience. Since this film, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, and Stephen Rea have gone on to great successes in films like ENCHANTED APRIL, THE CRYING GAME, NAKED, SHOOTING THE PAST, BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, and TOPSY-TURVY, establishing themselves as invaluable players in modern cinema, whether in lead or supporting roles.
    LIFE IS SWEET may seem to not "go anywhere" in modern terms, but look closely and the delightful, profoundly moving rewards will suprise you and no doubt lead to repeated viewings, even if just to enjoy Ms Steadman's infectious laugh. A must see for fans of British comedy and drama.
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    13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on August 4, 2001
    Format: VHS Tape
    In the early '90s when LIFE IS SWEET was released, the film made the top 10 lists of film critics everywhere, including Siskel and Ebert, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. So why hasn't this film made it to DVD??
    LIFE IS SWEET is the story of a set of twin teenage girls played by Claire Skinner and Jane Horrocks. You'll recognize Claire and Jane if you're a BBC/PBS fan. Claire played a chef-in-training on 'Chef' and a lady cop on 'Second Sight'. Jane Horrocks is LITTLE VOICE and I believe she played 'Bubbles' in 'Absolutely Fabulous'. Alison Steadman plays the mother in LIFE IS SWEET and she played Mrs. Bennett in 'Pride and Prejudice' (the most recent version with Colin Firth).
    Claire and Jane play their parts so well it is hard to believe they aren't real identical twins--even though they play very different characters. The first time I saw this film I thought the same girl was playing both roles (as did Hayey Mills in the 'Parent Trap'). The supporting cast includes many familiar faces including Jim Broadbent, whom I first noticed in 'Widow's Peake' though he also starred in the Gilbert and Sullivan film Mike Leigh produced a few years ago.
    LIFE IS SWEET is a story of teenage angst in an English working class family. One of the twins, Nicola (played by Jane Horrocks), has a problem with food. She starves herself when others are around and then gorges and purges in private (anorexia nervosa?). When Nicola and her boyfriend have sex she insists they do it with chocolate. Nicola dreams of taking her life beyond the narrow working-class world she inhabits. The other twin, played by Claire Skinner works as a plumber. She appears to be a practical and level-headed youngster, the kind most desired in traditional homes.
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