Career Girls

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"All Hannah wanted was a roommate... instead she got a best friend."
  • R
  • 1996
  • 1 hr 27 min
  • 7.1  (6,218)
  • 76

Career Girls is a British film written and directed by Mike Leigh, released in 1997. The movie follows two young women, Annie (Lynda Steadman) and Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge), who were roommates during their university days and who reunite after six years. The film is structured around two parallel narratives: one set in the present and the other in the past. In the present, Annie and Hannah meet up in London and spend a weekend together reminiscing about their college days and catching up on what has happened in their lives since then. In the past, we see the two friends during their student years, struggling to find themselves and their place in the world.

The two narratives alternate back and forth, with each one illuminating the other. The present-day sections show us the grown-up versions of Annie and Hannah, who are now in their thirties and have different careers and lifestyles. Annie, who comes from a working-class background, is now a successful TV producer, while Hannah, from a more privileged background, is struggling to find work as an actor.

The college flashbacks, on the other hand, show us the two friends at a crossroads in their lives. Annie is dealing with the aftermath of a difficult breakup with her boyfriend, while Hannah is finding it hard to reconcile her idealistic worldview with the harsh realities of the real world. The flashbacks are full of whimsical, light-hearted moments that contrast with the more somber tone of the present-day scenes.

Despite their different paths, Annie and Hannah's friendship remains strong throughout the film. They share intimate conversations about their personal and professional struggles, even as they come to comprehend how much they have changed since their university days.

The film is not without flaws. At times, the jarring transitions between the past and present can be disorienting. Additionally, some of the smaller characters in the movie aren't as fleshed out as they could be. But these criticisms pale in comparison to the movie's many strengths.

Career Girls is a beautifully written and acted film that manages to be both touching and funny. It's a moving tribute to the bonds of friendship and the power of perseverance in the face of adversity. Leigh deftly captures the uncertainty and dilemmas many young people face when trying to navigate through the choppy waters of adulthood.

The themes of the movie are central to human experience and pertain to the struggles of coming-of-age and confronting the challenges of adulthood. At the core of the movie is the idea that even after so many years, the love and loyalty between good friends remain steadfast. The movie also touches on the timeless theme of self-discovery and the different ways individuals cope with the challenges that life throws at them.

The performances of the lead actors, Lynda Steadman and Katrin Cartlidge, are both excellent. They bring a naturalism and authenticity to their roles, which is not surprising, given that Leigh is well known for his improvisational directing style. The supporting cast is also strong, particularly Kate Byers, who plays a spiky and acerbic American friend of Hannah's.

The film has other strong points, including the cinematography and the use of music. The movie's muted colors and austere look reflect the emotional tone of the story, while the frequent use of jazz music adds a sense of melancholy whimsy to the proceedings.

In conclusion, Career Girls is a small but affecting movie that showcases the sharp wit and humane storytelling at the heart of Mike Leigh's filmmaking. It's a movie that deservedly deserves to rank among Leigh's best works. If you're looking for a character-driven drama that immerses you in the lives of its protagonists, Career Girls should be on your to-watch list.

Career Girls
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 27 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (6,218)
  • Metascore