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High Hopes is a 1988 film directed by Mike Leigh, focusing on an extended working-class family living in King's Cross, London, and elsewhere.

High Hopes
High Hopes.jpg
Directed by Mike Leigh
Produced by Victor Glynn
Simon Channing-Williams
Written by Mike Leigh
Music by Andrew Dickson
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Edited by Jon Gregory
Distributed by Skouras Films (USA)
Release date
24 September 1988
Running time
112 min
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $1.1 million[1]

The film primarily examines Cyril (Philip Davis) and Shirley (Ruth Sheen), a motor-cycle courier and his girlfriend, along with their friends, neighbours, and Cyril's mother and sister.

Despite staying true to Leigh's down-at-the-heel, realist style, the film is ultimately a social comedy concerning culture clashes between different classes and belief systems. According to the critic Michael Coveney', "As in Meantime, High Hopes contrasts the economic and spiritual conditions of siblings. And in developing some of the themes in Babies Grow Old and Grown-Ups, it presents a brilliantly organised dramatic résumé of attitudes towards parturition and old age."[2]



Cyril is a strong, old-style socialist, who despairs of his elderly working-class but Tory-voting mum; her new yuppie neighbours, the Boothe-Braines (who have purchased what was once a Council house next door); and his social-climbing sister and her crass, car-salesman husband. Cyril and Shirley are portrayed as the most decent characters in the film, despite Cyril's irascible nature. Theirs is a strong relationship, marred by Cyril's reluctance to have children and his resentment that his cause is destined to be on the losing side in history.


Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ "High Hopes (1989) - Box Office Mojo".
  2. ^ Michael Coveney, The World according to Mike Leigh p.189

External linksEdit