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15 minutes of femme: sally hawkins

I like to think that I’m a fairly happy and easy going person, but from time to time (before, during and after menstruation) I do get a bit moody… I’ve been known to cry at silly things and my dad knows to avoid me completely in these times. I also admit to having serious road rage: a problem which has seen me get into a violent verbal fight with another driver who actually got out of his car at a red light in order to yell at me through my window for apparently not giving way. I get easily frustrated with children when they ask too many questions, with my dog when she makes funny mouth noises and with my dad when I have to repeat things because he refuses to get a hearing aid. I wish I was more relaxed, I wish I was carefree, I wish I was like Poppy Cross played by Sally Hawkins in Mike Leigh’s film Happy-Go-Lucky (2008).

Poppy (Pauline) Cross is exactly that: Happy-Go-Lucky. The film itself revolves around the everyday life of Poppy, a carefree primary-school teacher who shares a flat with her good friend Zoe in North London. Throughout the movie we delve into the life of Poppy as she attempts flamenco lessons, deals with a violent child at school and embarks upon driving lessons with her crazy and angry driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan). The film is extremely well written and directed by Mike Leigh, and Sally Hawkins’s role as Poppy is nothing less than perfect as she exudes happiness in almost every scene. The relationship which evolves between her and Scott is a complex one, yet I found that these scenes were the ones that I enjoyed the most. It was back in 2008 upon watching this film that I was first introduced to Sally Hawkins and as I enjoyed the film so much I’ve made a real effort to keep a close eye on everything else she has been involved with. And this is what I’ve found:

Since 1999, Sally has featured in many British TV movies and TV series including Little Britain, as well as other movies including Mike Leigh’s award winning film Vera Drake (2004). She has also been involved with theatre productions since 1998, most recently in 2010 as Vivie in George Bernard Shaw’s play Mrs. Warren’s Profession. It seems that Sally Hawkins proved herself and her capability in a leading role in Happy-Go-Lucky, as she won several awards, including a Golden Globe (competing against the likes of Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson).

Following her role as Poppy, Sally has been seen more prominently in films such as Desert Flower (2009), Made in Dagenham (2010), Submarine (2010) and Love Birds (2011). Her acting in each of these four films is outstanding, especially in her role as Rita O’Grady in Made in Dagenham, a film based on the true story of the 1968 strike initiated by the female sewing machinists at the Ford car plant in Dagenham in order to achieve equal pay rights. The story is an inspiring one and the emotion portrayed by Hawkins is compelling and had me in tears a number of times; the good kind of tears, tears of hope and joy.

Although her role in Submarine is a more minor one, she definitely adds something to this awesomely cool and funny film, frustration possibly? Or a great line like, “Don’t call them ninjas Oliver, that’s racist”. As a side note, I really can’t say enough good things about this film…but back to Sally…

Sally Hawkins’ is set to star in Great Expectations later this year and we can only cross our fingers and hope that we will be seeing more of her in the future of film and television!

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