Meantime – 1983 | 102 mins | Drama | Colour
This early Mike Leigh film is ostensibly about nothing more than how depressing life is on a London council estate in Thatcher’s Britain. Leigh is probably his best, certainly his bleakest. The suspicion is that Leigh was providing the middle classes with vicarious misery of estate life, Meantime is still powerful, and darkly funny.
Pam Ferris and Jeff Robert as the parents of a very young Tim Roth, an awkward, shy to-the-point-of-retarded younger brother of quick-witted layabout Phil Daniels. Gary Oldman pops up as an incredibly dense skinhead who joins the two boys and their father down the dole queue. Alfred Molina portrays a relative of the brothers strongly resistant to nudging their lives in a more constructive direction. All unemployed and living in a cramped East End flat, there’s constant family tension, exacerbated when Ferris’ sister Marion Bailey offers Roth some work, doing up her suburban house, an altruistic gesture that leads to the film’s climax. Virtually nothing happens beyond Roth almost getting a job painting his aunt’s house.
Mike Leigh: Director
Diana Charnley: Art Direction
Roger Pratt: Cinematography
Lindy Hemming: Costume Design
Lesley Walker: Editing
Andrew Dickson: Original Music
Graham Benson: Producer
Vivien Pottersman: Production Design
Lindy Hemming: Sound Dept