Director: MIKE LEIGH

U.K.| 1977. COLOUR. 100 MIN.

Leigh remains dismissive of this TV version of his often-revived theatre play, regarding it as hastily mounted and technically deficient. It’s ironic, then, that it should also be the most widely recognised and best-remembered piece he has ever written and directed. Alison Steadman gives a career-defining performance as the unforgettable Beverly, presiding tyrannically over a cocktail party during which emotions are laid bare and relationships, especially her own, fall apart. It’s a kind of very British equivalent of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in which sarcasm, casual insults and thinly disguised contempt largely predominate over emotional histrionics.

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