Leigh’s third film, an inspired slice of working class English life, combines a great script with inspired improvisation from its appealing, talented cast. The director specializes in presenting us with slightly eccentric characters and offbeat situations that nevertheless come off as believable and authentic. Steadman (Leigh’s then-wife) is a standout as the relentlessly optimistic mom, and Horrocks also registers strongly as her bitter, conflicted daughter. The grotesque comedy (especially where Spall is concerned) may make you laugh, but Leigh doesn’t skimp on the social and psychological commentary. Award-winning and critically acclaimed, this biting drama is a bittersweet treat worth devouring.