Hilarious, cringe-inducing and shocking - Mike Leigh takes aim at suburban life in the 1970s. Shown on Play for Today in 1977. This "cocktail party from hell" wickedly took apart the tastelessness, pretensions and pomposity of England's aspiring suburban classes. As a get-together of neighbours turns from social embarrassment, to personal antagonism to crisis, the audience is manipulated into squirming and laughing but is ultimately shocked. Alison Steadman's incredible performance as the overbearing and garish housewife Beverley launched her career, while the writer and director successfully took his improvisational methods to the big screen with films...
Over-rated but still a worthy part of Leigh's oeuvre
- Mike Leigh at the BBC: Abigail's Party review by ZS
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You rated this film: 3
I saw this film once on the stage around ten years ago, and now for the first time on the screen. Initially I was impressed with the dramatic versions of everyday traits demonstrated in the play. Having now seen many of Leigh's later works however, this seems less sophisticated by comparison and the characters too ridiculous.
The play is funny with a dark thread, and shows a great understanding of human character, however the characters do not attract much empathy, and at certain times the play seems to jolt forwards. I think that films such as 'High Hopes' or 'Happy-go-Lucky' are far stronger examples of Leigh's work.
Nevertheless, Mike Leigh would definitely rank among the better directors of British 'theatre-influenced' film in the late twentieth century, and so it is fair to say that there is value in watching any of his films.
Wannabe middle class aspiration makes for excruciating black humour
- Mike Leigh at the BBC: Abigail's Party review by RP
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You rated this film: 5
Based on a stage play, this is the 1977 BBC 'Play For Today' version. Written and directed by Mike Leigh, it translates well to the small screen. While it is a little dated, it is most definitely 'of its time' and the 1970s decor, dress, music and topics of wannabe middle class aspiration only add to the black humour. It makes for excruciatingly embarrassing viewing in places as the truly dreadful, pretentious hostess (astonishingly well played by Alison Steadman) entertains her hapless neighbours. I'm of an age where I saw the original, and seeing it again some 35 years later it is still superb stuff. 5/5 stars - highly recommended.
cringeworthy stuff that deserves an oscar
- Mike Leigh at the BBC: Abigail's Party review by hmmm
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You rated this film: 5
retro 1970s (or is it 80s) back to the old style nighbour drinks party. hostess who cant seem to stop putting her foot in it. guests who really dont want to be thee. undercurrents of drama and intrigue. and some cool 70s kitchen tiles to boot. what more could you want. its so cheesy and dire it gets compelling. bear with it as its slow to start.