Mike Leigh’s emotional powerhouse, set in 1950s Britain, is dominated by Imelda Staunton’s extraordinary, career-best performance.
Vera Drake is an ordinary working class woman living in post-war London. She is a cleaner, while her husband (Phil Davis) works as a mechanic in his brother’s garage. Though far from well-off, they and their grown-up children are happy. So it’s something of a surprise when the police come calling, wanting to question Vera about her sideline, helping young women who have gotten themselves in trouble. It’s something no one knows about and threatens to destroy the fabric of Vera’s world.
Leigh's film is a profoundly compassionate portrait of a woman risking her livelihood for the charity of others and a searing indictment of societal hypocrisy.
★★★★★ "One of the most moving, haunting performances I have ever seen in the cinema" - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian