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Vera Drake

Wife. Mother. Criminal 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Vera Drake

Vera Drake (Staunton) is a devoted wife, mother and daughter. In her small part of 1950s East London she is loved and respected by her family, friends and neighbours. Always ready with a cup of tea Vera tirelessly cheers up the drab post war world. Vera has a secret though; she performs back street abortions for poor women. Those who she helps range from a mother with a squad of kids who can ill-afford to have anymore, to young unmarried girls who can not risk the shame of pregnancy. Vera tends to these women like a kindly aunt and expects no money in return. When one of Vera’s patients falls dangerously ill after complications from the procedure the police come knocking at her door. The Drake’s loving family unravel from the gravity of Vera’s secret. A close-knit community is profoundly disturbed. The question is, can Vera justify her actions? And will her family ever be the same again?

Vera Drake has been called Mike Leigh’s best film to date. It is the power of Imelda Staunton’s performance that really brings this film to life. Staunton manages to convey realism in her role of a cheerful cockney woman, never turning her into a caricature. The sheer bewilderment at her arrest and the subsequent realisation of her situations seriousness is truly heartbreaking to witness. Along with Vera’s story there is also the tender relationship between Vera’s daughter and family friend Stan, which brings humour into the dark events of the film. Leigh’s portrayal of fifties’ east end is shrouded in a grey haze so that the atmosphere has the feel of a black and white photograph, wonderfully evoking a sense of a time and place alien to our modern world.  

Helen Appleyard

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)