Meantime (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Special Edition, Criterion Collection
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A slow-burning depiction of economic degradation in Thatcher's England, Mike Leigh's 'Meantime' was the culmination of the writer-director's pioneering work in television and became his breakthrough theatrical release. Unemployment is rampant in London's working-class East End, where a middle-aged couple and their two sons languish in a claustrophobic public housing flat. As the brothers (Phil Daniels and Tim Roth) grow increasingly disaffected, Leigh punctuates the grinding boredom of their daily existence with tense encounters, including with a priggish aunt (Marion Bailey) who has managed to become middle-class and a blithering skinhead on the verge of psychosis (a scene-stealing Gary Oldman, in his first major role). Informed by Leigh s now trademark improvisational process and propelled by the lurching rhythms of its Beckett-like dialogue, Meantime is an unrelenting, often blisteringly funny look at life on the dole.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Roger Pratt and director Mike Leigh, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- New conversation between Leigh and musician Jarvis Cocker
- New conversation between actor Marion Bailey and critic Amy Raphael
- PLUS: An essay by film scholar Sean O'Sullivan
Top customer reviews
The film focuses on two brothers trying to find jobs when unemployment was rampant. The one is mentally slow and socially awkward. The other struggles to find purpose and pride given their circumstances, and refuses to give totally in to the skinhead/doc marten boot wearing friends that hang around. Much will be made of Gary Oldman's young punk character, who can sometimes fill the screen with dread in a movie that already makes you feel like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Some of the other actors may be more well known overseas, but Tim Roth (from the beginning of Pulp Fiction [Blu-ray]) plays one brother, and Alfred Molina (Chocolat) plays a small part as well.
Criterion's booklet mentions that this was the time Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, and the film was supposed to be a partial comment on the policies of the day. However, she never comes up directly in the film, and really neither does politics, except for one discussion on what "economics" means between the boy's mom and their aunt. Like many of the scenes it is very uncomfortable (Tim Roth's character, Colin, is uncomfortable just to look at and must have required great effort to stay in character). Great direction by Mike Leigh (Life Is Sweet (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]), and the camerawork is particularly good.
Ultimately, "Meantime" is about the brothers and the choices one makes when there are not many real choices in life to be had. Somewhat of a coming of age film for Colin, but a bleak one at that. Criterion extras are mostly interviews and are interesting but nothing to get too excited about. 4 1/2 stars.
While I am a fan of Mike Leigh, this early effort is clearly before he has honed his storytelling skills, who will become first rate in such films as Life is Sweet or Secrets and Lies. It is worth a look, but I would not recommend buying it.
Most recent customer reviews
They're on WELFARE,They sit around the pub drinking on they're Welfare Money ,...Read more