A slow-burning depiction of economic degradation in Thatcher’s England, Mike Leigh’s Meantime is the culmination of the writer-director’s pioneering work in television. Unemployment is rampant in London’s working-class East End, where a middle-aged couple and their two sons languish in a claustrophobic public-housing flat. As the brothers (Phil Daniels and Tim Roth) grow increasingly disaffected, Leigh punctuates the grinding boredom of their daily existence with tense encounters, including with a priggish aunt (Marion Bailey) who has managed to become middle-class and a blithering skinhead on the verge of psychosis (a scene-stealing Gary Oldman, in his first major role). Informed by Leigh’s now trademark improvisational process and propelled by the lurching rhythms of its Beckett-like dialogue, Meantime is an unrelenting, often blisteringly funny look at life on the dole.
Join Janus Films in 2018 as we celebrate the centennial of the Swedish director’s birth with a traveling retrospective of all of his theatrical films!