I don't really know what I can add to the already strong case that this is a wonderful film. I guess being a 26-year old male (not the target audience, probably) says something that this film can reach out to anyone who is interesting in having a positive human reaction! It is amazing how such a positive and friendly film so distinctly walks this side of the line between endearing and sickly sweet. Part of that is no doubt due to Sally Hawkins performance as Poppy. The other part is how director Mike Leigh handles the material so smartly; it never feels condescending or patronizing. It's more inviting than that. It shows one way that one person is happily living their life, and suggests that happiness lies in the personal connections with those surrounding one's self. It sounds like a fairly run-of-the-mill concept, but I assure you, Happy-Go-Lucky is an absolute revelation.
Sally Hawkins as Poppy.
As mentioned above, Sally Hawkins as Poppy is just so much fun to watch. She is so, just... HAPPY! And as also mentioned above, not in a sickly sweet kind of way. She is a full, three dimensional character who experiences ups and downs like everyone else, but somehow she just loves life and loves people. She tries to help and reach out to others, and her optimism is positively contagious. She says what she is thinking, and is not afraid to confront people who are passive-aggressive, angry, or sad. She is also surrounded by a fun cast of characters, including her friends, family members, and people in her community. Not everyone is happy all the time, and of course there are problems all around, but Poppy's presence encourages people to recognize what is upsetting them, and overcoming it. Poppy's happiness is more catharsis than anything. In no way does it suggest that happiness can be obtained by ignoring problems, bottling up negative emotions, and slapping on a fake smile.
Poppy and her best friend and flatmate, Zoe (Alexis Zegerman).
Poppy's angsty driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan).
If nothing else, it is just a fun movie to watch. There were times where I just started laughing, by myself, because of something ordinary she was doing, but with such verve and energy. As I write this and re-read it, I can't help but think that people might brush this film off as, y'know, too Happy-go-lucky, but honestly it is so worth seeing I can hardly recommend another film more right now. With summer arriving, this is the perfect film to put you in a good mood and to get yourself up and out there doing things with your friends and family. I don't feel like I'm doing it justice, because I'm just feeling so bubbly after watching it that I can't really express it. Just do yourself a favour and watch this! I challenge you to see this and not be happy afterwards! Bam, RECOMMENDED.