Tony Whitehead
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‘A kind of language’
Bleak Moments
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This chapter looks at Mike Leigh's first feature, where he, with his partner Blair in Autumn Productions, funded their first project with the help of the British Film Institute Production Board and Memorial Films. The film Bleak Moments lacked the robust comedy of his later works. It also did not have the strong narrative structure of his subsequent work. Leigh himself once called it the slowest film ever made. It contained few jokes, but still it firmly established him as a superb, meticulous chronicler of suburban anxiety and repression. Bleak Moments was successful in delicately evoking that world of stifled cries and whispers; a world in which emotions are sublimated into food and drink, into music, into lists of artifacts, but never actually expressed. Its slow pace and the patchy sound quality were not withstanding, but it was a great calling card, revealing much promise for Leigh's future career.

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