Bleak Moments (Leigh, 1971)

Bleak Moments (Mike Leigh, 1971)

Bleak Moments is a sad tale of missed opportunity – at least that’s how I view it. Sylvia is a secretary, taking care of her mentally ill sister. She starts a friendship with a slightly strange neighbor while also trying to spark a romantic relationship with a local teacher. Every character in this film is shy, reclusive, and socially awkward, and it makes for a tedious viewing at times. (The characters struggle nearly the entire time trying to have regular conversations.)

I did fine the whole thing touching, in a heartbreaking sort of way, especially at how happy Sylvia seems when spending time with her neighbor compared to how stiff everything is when out with the teacher. But a 30 minute stretch in the middle where Sylvia and the teacher try painfully to have a conversation really took a lot out of me, often to the point where I found myself unable to concentrate. And while I did find some of it rather funny, (There is a scene at a Chinese restaurant where a waiter embarrasses the teacher that I couldn’t help but laugh at.) most of it was as the title describes – bleak. Still, I couldn’t help but feel an endless amount of sympathy for Sylvia as she continued to give and be loving of others while nothing went her way.  7.75/10

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