British director Mike Leigh came of age in the 1960s, and his movies deliver sensitive studies of working-class English life, with its signature mix of drear and cheer. Vera Drake follows a cleaning lady whose sunny disposition does daily battle with the postwar London gloom of 1950. Whether kneeling to polish an andiron in a mansion of a wealthy employer, or sitting at her aged mother’s bedside, or visiting the cramped flats where she...
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