Whenever I put on just about any Krzysztof Kieslowski DVD, it becomes apparent, usually within the first 60 seconds, that I’m watching an exceptional film. The way it looks, the rhythm of the shots, the way it sounds, the natural look in the actors eyes — the attention to the details of every facet of the filmmaking process creates a feeling like a symphony of 50 different instruments playing a melody in perfect pitch and perfect time. It moves you. And you know that wherever the journey takes you, you’re in good hands. It doesn’t happen often because Sturgeon’s Law holds true in movies too. But when it does happen, you sit up and take notice because you don’t want to miss anything. You’re no longer a passive viewer. You’re engaged. You’re paying attention. Vera Drake is that kind of film. It tells the story of a woman in England after World War II who performs illegal abortions for poor people who can’t afford the medical procedure themselves. It’s not a pro-choice or anti-abortion film. It presents the situation, draws you into the thoughts and feelings of all the people involved (Vera’s close-knit family) and allows you to make your own judgements.
None of it is black and white, though. When the end credits start rolling, you’re left with a lot of feelings to sort through and plenty to think about. It’s not an overly-serious downer film, though. Yes, there is drama, but it’s a pleasure to be with these characters because they’re so genuine and kind. It’s just solid filmmaking all around. At any rate, I’ll keep an eye out for anything directed by Mike Leigh for now on. He definitely got my attention with Vera Drake. I recommend it to anyone who just wants to see a good movie.