The 2008 film Happy-Go-Lucky features a star making performance by Sally Hawkins in a role that simply has made me fall in love with her character. Playing the role of Poppy, a northern English woman who is a school teacher and strives to pass her driving exam while leading the most optimistic life possible. The film begins with Poppy riding her bike through town, only to find it stolen after exiting a bookstore. Poppy doesn’t fret, instead she decides that she will finally learn how to drive. From here we focus on the life of Poppy as she handles her kindergarten class, pregnant sister, spotty love life and strict and partially crazy driving instructor.

What immediately satisfying about the film is the quick wit and quickly paced dialogue by writer/director Mike Leigh. He script is so crisp, it’s hard to believe that these aren’t real people. Sally Hawkins portrayal of Poppy is so excellent, it feels like she’s just being herself on camera. What’s so outstanding to me is she’s happy, flirtatious, fun-loving, smart, adventurous and all of these things without taking herself seriously or being too arrogant. She’s honestly the best person I’ve seen in a film in a very long time. We watch her as the driving instructor has an obvious crush on her and what does she do? Does she shut the guy down or make him feel bad? Of course not, she’s slides past the potentially awkward conversation. She’s a character that loves everyone and expects nothing from anyone. All that she seems to want is for people to be nice, and to be themselves and she can get along with them. What’s fun about this film is there are not catastrophic events that happen to any of the characters. We don’t see someone die or something get ruined in a relationship, we see a slice of Poppy’s life and it’s as rewarding an experience as I’ve seen in quite some time.