Tony Whitehead
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‘Life’s too short’
All or Nothing
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This chapter illustrates how Mike Leigh returned to more recognisable territory for his film, All or Nothing. The opening shot of All or Nothing almost looked like a parody of his style and mood—except that no parody could so succinctly convey the humanity and sense of mortality that pervade both, the opening, and the film as a whole. The film proved to be Leigh's most resonant assertion yet that human emotions and experiences are too intricate to be expressed through traditionally constructed dialogue and narratives; that real lives are too messy, too complicated to be squeezed into conventional dramatic parameters. This chapter also draws attention to the fact that the film made this emphatic assertion precisely by means of a meticulously constructed narrative, involving characters who so clearly reflect the tragedies and triumphs of everyday life, testified to a writer and director at something like the height of his powers.

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