Mike Leigh Relationships

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Mike Leigh portrays the barriers between family members through distinctions in education, housing and occupations. The conclusion of the film illustrates the significant extent to which these barriers are overcome, when the family seek to reconcile with one another. A child born out of wedlock, a couple struggling with infertility and an adopted child, are all secrets too shameful to be shared with other family members. These issues give rise to the complex relationships that Cynthia has with Roxanne, Monica and Hortense. These secrets become barriers that hinder communication between these family members. Leigh explores reconciliation between family members, when secrets are revealed and communication is allowed for ‘pain to be shared’.…show more content…
Cynthia and Monica’s relationship is highlighted through Leigh’s use of conflicting scenes, between the two. Throughout the film scenes of Monica’s lavish life are shown in succession to scenes of Cynthia’s modest life, to highlight their differences that cause their dislike for one another. Cynthia dislikes Monica because she believes she is using her brother's modest wealth to finance her lavish life. Cynthia cannot comprehend such a life and is quick to question Monica as to ‘why she [what do you] needs six bedrooms [for]’? Monica’s lifestyle is portrayed as a contrast to Cynthia’s who lives in a housing estate complex and works at a factory to afford the bare minimum. Though other characters insist that ‘Monica is so lucky’ and her life appears superior to Cynthia’s, she cannot have children. Monica becomes consumed with her infertility and disguises her pain with exorbitant expenses. Monica can be seen as resentful toward Cynthia whose ability to have children has been a burden rather than a joy. As a consequence of Monica’s jealousy and Cynthia’s belief that Monica is squandering her brother’s wealth the two are unable to communicate. Their lack communication not only influences their relationship but effects the whole family dynamic. Upon Cynthia’s confession of Hortense’s adoption Maurice insists ‘We’re all in pain. Why can’t we share our pain?’ This triggers Maurice to confess Monica’s infertility. Monica and Cynthia overcome their barriers when Cynthia realises how fortunate she has been in her ability to have children. Leigh places Monica and Cynthia in the same scene in contrast to their previous conflicting scenes, when they reconcile. Monica and Cynthia share a warm embrace in which Cynthia holds her against her bosom. This act can be seen as symbolic to the role of a mother. Leigh portrays how the barriers between Cynthia and Monica relationship

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