Tony Whitehead
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‘So long as you’re happy’
Life Is Sweet
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This chapter illustrates Mike Leigh's feature film Life Is Sweet, an important development in Leigh's working life that came in 1989 when he formed the production company, Thin Man Films, with Simon Channing-Williams. For the company's first production, Leigh committed himself to making a comedy that would have a potentially larger audience appeal than his earlier film, High Hopes. Life Is Sweet consolidated Leigh's international reputation as a man of cinema and as a great director of actors. The domestic setting and breezy tone initially gave it the impression of feature-length pilot for, or spin-off from, a situation comedy. With this film, Leigh succeeded in his aim of making a comedy with considerable popular appeal. True, some of the old charges of caricaturing and patronizing his characters were still there, but such criticisms seemed to represent the minority viewpoint.

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