This early Mike Leigh film was made for British television in 1983 (released theatrically in 1985), and introduced both Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. Set in the Thatcher era, the story--typically for Leigh--is more a matter of... more » dramatic evolution than a conventionally realized script. The action revolves around a middle-class family whose male members are all on the government dole, and whose matriarch (Marion Bailey) is long-suffering in the sight of her two sons, one a half-wit (Roth) and the other a cynical bum (Phil Daniels). Oldman plays the latter's skinhead pal, mostly a goof with no future, and Alfred Molina portrays a relative of the brothers strongly resistant to nudging their lives in a more constructive direction. The story, such as it is, is actually a series of discrete, deceptively unambitious, and highly entertaining scenes that could just as easily stand on their own as belong to some greater whole. Leigh, not quite fully baked as a filmmaker in the early 1980s, occasionally engages a rather obvious wit, such as shooting a long take in a laundry room from an angle that favors the sight of a washing machine and ignores the characters from the waist up. The remarkable actors, however, are as deeply immersed in their roles as in any of Leigh's work, and the film is ultimately as moving and funny as one expects from this unique director. --Tom Keogh« less
"I'd give the movie five stars. The problem is, the DVD release from Fox Lorber is awful. There's something seriously wrong with the soundtrack; the dialog elements are drowned out by the music, and there's a synchronization problem that often leaves the left and right channel staggered by about half a second. Even more distracting, added sound effects often come from the wrong channel compared to the supposed visual source of the sound. My guess is that instead of using a properly mixed mono soundtrack, Fox Lorber went back to the multi-channel master tapes for the mono soundtrack and used them as a fake stereo master -- but did a really bad job on the mix.Whatever the technical explanation, it ruined my enjoyment of the movie."
janet e jones | England | 12/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This realist picture of the british working class was orginally made just for T.V. The reason it is now realeased on video is proberbly due to its highly noteworthy cast and the fact its directed by Mike Leigh. However "Meantime" truely deseaves to be rediscoved- its a little gem! Set on a council estate in London, Leigh masterfully caputures the sights and sounds of his environment. The film centres around the unemployed Pollock family, particually sons Mark and Colin. Mark(Phil Daniels) has an attitude of frankness and nihilism, not unlike that of johney in Leighs "Naked". Colin(Tim Roth) on the other hand is slow witted, confused and vunerable to the outside world. Through-out the film we sense Marks well guarded affection for his younger brother as he trys desperatly to protect him. Like most Leigh films "Meantime" is mostly improvised, and as usual, he has a fine ensemble of actors who wont disappoint. Daniels and Roth are both equally convincing and absorbing in their roles- they even look like brothers! Gary Oldman makes his debut and theatens to steal the whole show as impish, skinhead Coxy. But perhaps the most commendable performance here belongs to Marion Bailey as the middle class aunt who attempts to put an optomistic smile on their situation(only to have her good intensions torn apart by Mark). This film may be to bleak and low-key for some viewers. There is no real story line to speak of, but it is a very pure piece of art. I'd recomend it to anyone who is willing to look beneath the surface."
Time Keeps On Slipping
Robert Stribley | NY, NY | 07/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you've any doubt of the difference between English and American cultures, watch this early Mike Leigh flick and then think about the fact that it was made for television. The writing in this dark little number is better than that of most of the movies released over here, let alone anything American-made you'll ever see on television.These are dark character sketches, and I too was reminded of Leigh's Naked as watched, though this movie doesn't share so much of Naked's explicit philosophizing. It does share similarly benighted characters, however, and a central character with the same shiftless way and easy ability to say whatever pops into his head. Phil Daniels portrays this character, Mark, the story's wise fool: he knows enough to understand his situation is a horrible one; he's quite adept at analyzing whatever goes on around him, and he's revolted by it; but he does little to extricate himself from the situation; his attitude reflects that of most in the film, expect perhaps for his aunt who is always somewhat futilely trying to adjust the status quo.Mark and his brother Colin and their father (who looks perfectly like an older Phil Daniels) are all on the dole, along with Gary Oldman's character Coxy.As Mark's half-witted brother, Tim Roth really steals the show; he's so deep into his part, it's easy to forget he's acting. The character development in this story belongs mainly to Roth's character and though the movie seems to start out focusing equally on all involved, events gradually accumulate to have the greatest effect upon him. Interaction especially with Coxy and his brother stirs him to life and the consequences are both amusing and touching. Some viewers won't be happy with the ending--the change may not be profound enough for them--but the change is there and it's a sign of inward struggle, a slight pulsing signal of hope .Kudos also to Marion Bailey who plays the boys' mother. Her role is not a particularly sympathetic one, but in one striking scene when she plays hurt, your heart goes out to this woman anyway. You understand that beneath her surly exterior there's a woman needing affection from her sons.Often amusing and surprisingly touching despite its torpid atmosphere, this cunningly simple movie is most greatly enrichened by its characters, many of whom will stay with me for quite some time.(Footnote: As I watched Naked, I thought that Mike Leigh may be the only director qualified to make a film of Martin Amis's London Fields; Meantime confirms his qualifications for me.)"
One Star for the DVD only
Michael Leone | Brooklyn, NY | 03/30/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Don't buy this DVD. The sound is bad. The dialect in Leigh's films can be hard enough for us Yanks without having it be virtually inaudible and painfully blotted out by the music. The mix of this DVD is really bad and it spoils the movie. That said, the movie is fantastic; too bad the DVD does it such an injustice."
CLASSIC WORKING CLASS TV PLAY
Michael Leone | 08/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WHILE AMERICA WAS CHURNING OUT TEEN FILMS WHERE THE GUY ALWAYS GET THE GIRL AT THE END, US ENGLISH WERE SITTING ROUND WATCHING A FILM WHICH SUMMED UP OUR EVERY DAY LIFE IN THE EARLY 80'S. LIVING ON COUNCIL ESTATES,EITHER BEING A SKINHEAD (OLDMAN)A MOD OR A SCRUFF IN A SNORKEL(ROTH) NOTHING TO DO BUT DOSS ROUND THE STREETS AND NO RESPECT FOR ELDERS. THIS TV PLAY SUMS UP EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT TIME WITH SOME HILARIOUS DIALOGUE & MOVING MOMENTS. NOT MUCH AS CHANGED TODAY EXCEPT THE CLOTHES .. A CLASSIC CLASSIC FILM."