- 1 hr 52 min
Meantime is a dramatic film directed by Mike Leigh in 1983. The movie explores a family and their struggles to survive amidst the harsh realities of economic deprivation, unemployment, and social isolation in 1980s London. The movie follows the lives of the working-class family of the Pollocks, who live in a rundown council estate in east London. Maisey (Marion Bailey), the mother, works as a home tailoress and spends her savings on alcohol, and her husband Frank (Jeff Robert) is jobless and spends his days watching TV. Their sons, Mark (Phil Daniels) and Colin (Tim Roth), don't have much to look forward to in life, and they spend their days getting into mischief, roaming around the streets and shopping arcades, and occasionally stealing from passersby.
Mark, the elder of the two, is constantly at odds with his mother and father. He is unhappy with his life and dreams of escaping the monotony of his existence. He is frustrated with his younger brother for not having the same aspirations as him and for being content with how things are.
Colin, on the other hand, is simple-minded, and it is evident that he has some mental disability. His family doesn't quite understand him and often mocks him. He finds comfort in his friendship with Coxy (Gary Oldman), who is seen as a troublemaker, yet Colin looks up to him.
The film revolves around the dynamics of the family, and how their struggles against unemployment, poverty, and their own personal demons cause them to break apart. Meantime is a harsh and honest portrayal of working-class life and is a reflection of the socio-economic conditions of London in the early 1980s.
The movie is visceral and raw, and delivers an unflinching account of the effects of poverty and hopelessness on a family. The script is grounded in reality, and the actors give performances that are entirely believable. Tim Roth particularly delivers a standout performance as Colin. His portrayal of the character brings out all the nuances of his disability, and his conflict with his family is nothing short of heartbreaking.
Meantime has a documentary-like feel to it. The camera takes the audience deep into the lives of the characters, showing the dilapidated houses, the filth, and the grime that they are surrounded by. The bleakness of the setting is contrasted with the richly detailed portrayal of the familial relationships. The movie is not always easy to watch. It includes disturbing scenes of violence, particularly towards Colin, that are hard to bear.
The film is also notable for featuring some future stars of British cinema. Phil Daniels, Tim Roth, and Gary Oldman all give performances that would eventually propel them to international acclaim. Their performances are a testament to the acting capabilities that would later establish them as some of the finest actors of their generation.
Meantime is a deeply moving and harrowing film that deserves to be seen. Mike Leigh's writing and direction combined with the performances of the ensemble cast create a film that is both emotional and illuminating. The movie examines the bitter realities of life in Thatcher's Britain and does so with remarkable clarity and honesty. It is a film that remains as relevant today as it was in the early 1980s, and one that deserves to be watched by a new generation of audiences.
Meantime is a 1981 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 52 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2 and a MetaScore of 69.