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ALL OR NOTHING


"The members of the struggling family at the center of 'All or Nothing' are awkward, miserable and sometimes ridiculous, but they are neither puffed up by sentimentality nor diminished by mockery. They are life-size and almost unbearably human...Mr. Leigh is not the kind of realist who views his characters as representative of anything but themselves. He probes unsparingly into their awfulness, hoping they will surprise him with their decency, and when it matters most, they oblige him...Their climactic confrontation, in which years of bitterness and dashed expectations pour out, is one of the most moving scenes I've seen in a movie this year" -- A.O. Scott, The New York Times


"Although the pay-off for this grueling trudge through the miserable lives of Britain's working poor is slightly less than that of his astounding Palme d'Or-winner 'Secrets & Lies,' Leigh's uncanny ability to mine emotional truth packs the usual punch. And the trademark flashes of humor sprinkled throughout ease the bleakness of the landscape...it's easy to succumb to the rhythms of this melancholic but humanistic rumination on the meaning of life." -- Megan Turner, The New York Post

"Leigh uses a somber cello-rich score to infuse this quotidian suffering with a mystical edge and high-culture gloss--and yet, thanks to the generally enthusiastic performing, the movie borders on farce...The ensemble is as compact in its way as the cast of a sitcom--and no less inclined to squabble and whine...'All or Nothing' can be rough going--even a bit grueling--building up through a medical crisis to the big scene between Spall and Manville...Though more cathartic than redemptive, this sob-racked confession is the payoff for two hours of low-grade misery." -- J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"Mike Leigh is often described as a curmudgeonly observer of life's most disheartening sides...But there's also a humane streak running through his work, revealing deep compassion for ordinary people bludgeoned by injustices of class, gender, and economics
...Leigh is one of the rare directors who feels acting is the heart and soul of cinema. He allows his cast members to make creative contributions to the story and dialogue. This method almost never fails him, and it works superbly here." -- David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"'All or Nothing,' arguably the bleakest film of his career, is a tough go, but Leigh's depth and rigor, and his skill at inspiring accomplished portrayals that are all the more impressive for their lack of showiness, offsets to a notable degree the film's often-mined and despairing milieu...Leigh piles up woe wider and higher than ever before. That he has done so with his usual skill, perception and alertness to relieving gestures of human tenderness and care does not keep 'All or Nothing' from being a pretty glum, overly familiar business." -- Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times