The Short & Curlies ★★★★

Compressed Leigh—an entire feature’s cycle of diminishing working-class expectations and strained family relations in a quarter hour in which the passage of time is marked by trips to the salon and New Wave highlights and professional-woman perms; Thewlis and Steadman getting in 100 minutes worth of tics (her little gasps between sentences!). Thewlis so appealing/frustrating as a shy motormouth who hides behind premature dad jokes—you see, as his destined-to-be-disappointed Intended does, how badly he seems to want to open up, and how nervously he then shuts off and cancels the attempt with a punchline, which is itself an attempt at opening up... and the cycle continues. Leigh, who is more interested in encouraging political interpretations of his work than psychological ones, would want me to say that this is a portrait of stagnation in Thatcher’s Britain, and so it is.