Director: Mike Leigh
Writer: Mike Leigh
Stars: Imelda Staunton, Jim Broadbent, Richard Graham, Eddie Marsan, Alex Kelly, Daniel Mays
Vera Drake is one of the most depressing movies I’ve ever
seen. It’s a story that stirs conflict in the conscience of anyone who
is for or against abortion. What makes this movie good is the powerhouse
performance by Imelda Staunton. In my whole life, I’ve never seen a character cry as much as Vera Drake… and she evoked more sympathy from me than almost any other I’ve seen.
It’s a story about an abortionist named Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton). However,
she’s not just an abortionist. She’s a mother first and a caretaker for
the disabled and elderly second. What she does, she does out of the
kindness of her heart. She does it to help young women during a time
where it was incomprehensibly difficult to raise a child due to class,
social, racial, and financial issues. This isn’t a preachy movie that
asks you to make a choice, it’s simply great storytelling. It’s not so
much a movie about abortion, it’s more about the abortionist herself and
What makes Vera Drake most interesting is the clear display
of differences between the upper and lower class. Through displaying the
course of action that a ‘rich’ girl would go through to get an
abortion, we see how hard it was for poor women to get a termination.
For the rich, they had to pay 150 pounds and take a psychology test.
There is no way the poor could possibly afford these expenses, which is
why they turn to people like Vera Drake, who are there to ‘help young girls out.’
We also see that these unqualified abortionists are bound to botch a
procedure at one stage in their life, no matter how seasoned a veteran
they are. This is shown at the end, when Vera talks to two
other abortionists who had both been performing the procedures for
years. They had both botched procedures also. It just goes to show that
no matter how good someone’s intentions are, they are still running the
risk of seriously hurting the women they’re ‘helping.’
The major problem I had with the film was that it dragged on way too
much. Like I said, I’ve never seen a character cry so much in a movie.
This certainly makes the whole process more realistic, however, it
grates on your patience when it goes on for one hour. Also, the movie
just seemed too long for a story with hardly any significant events.
In the end, it was Imelda Staunton that made this a very good film. Her performance in Vera Drake is
one of the best of all time. She was robbed of the Oscar for Best
Actress that year, but then again, The Academy Awards are a popularity
contest between Hollywood’s elite. If you see this film, you’ll know
that hers was the best performance of the year. You should watch this
film for Staunton’s incredible performance alone. The great subject matter is just the icing on the cake.