Vera Drake

 
(i)

 

Tender, quality presentation of touchy subject.
  • Review Date: October 13, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This movie centers on a woman performing illegal abortions in the spirit of helping out.

Violence

One scene of a man forcing himself upon a woman.

Sex

Discussion of pregnancy and abortion, but nothing explicit is said or shown.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking, and a rapist in one scene is drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is about a woman who performs illegal abortions in 1950s England. She is shown as very loving and caring for her family and everyone around her. The abortions are described as "helping out" young women. Her illegal activity brings heavy consequences both for her and her family. Also, a man forces himself onto a woman who later gets pregnant. Another woman climbs on top of her husband in bed with the intent of having sex and getting pregnant. Nothing sexual or abortion-related is shown or spoken about graphically.

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What's the story?

Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is a working class domestic who works hard trying to get by in 1950s' London. She cares as much for her bourgeois bosses as she does for her husband George (Richard Graham), her two grown children (Alex Kelly and Daniel Mays), her mother (Sandra Voe), and nearly anyone who crosses her path. But Vera also secretly performs illegal abortions for young women in need. When the procedure causes one girl to fall ill and almost die, the authorities (Peter Wight and Martin Savage) track down Vera and bring her to justice. The result to both her and her family is nearly devastating.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This film is strictly for adults, but VERA DRAKE is a heavy film no matter what your age. Director Mike Leigh paints a sympathetic picture of Vera, who performs the abortions not for money but only to, as she puts it, "help young girls." So the film is not really a about abortion rights as much as it is about people caught up in complicated situations.

A British drama through and through, the movie's pacing could prove tedious for some. Yet, even when the film's last half becomes weighed down by legal proceedings and family conflict, it continues to pack an emotional whollop. In a very mature film about a very divisive topic, Vera's humble face is enough to tug any heartstring. When she hears of the one girl's near-death experience, her eyes well up and stay that way for the last hour of the film. This is fine-tuned acting.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's moral complexities and the issue of abortion. Is Vera right in her choice to "help young girls?" What message do you think the director wanted viewers to walk away with?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 19, 2004
DVD release date:March 29, 2005
Cast:Imelda Staunton, Peter Wight, Philip Davis
Director:Mike Leigh
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Drama
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:depiction of strong thematic material.

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Quality

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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bydamoviecritic April 9, 2008
 

An excellant film, but it has a slow build up

I found the girst 3 quarters of the film rather dull. The plot was a little hard to follow and seemed to ramble. However, once Vera is arrested and her amazing acting ability is on display, the film becomes excellant. It raises some interesting discussion, and in the end was a very powerful peace of cinema. Most teens probably won't be interested, but I think almost anybody can appreciate the depth of the performance by Stauldon. Talk about an oscar snub.

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