Rated 5.0

Polly (Sally Hawkins), a 30-something primary-school teacher, shares a flat with longtime friend and colleague Zoe (Alexis Zegerman). Vivacious and dedicated, she has a seemingly natural gregariousness that makes itself felt not just with her circle of friends (single girls all) and with her pupils, but also with nearly everyone she encounters, including strangers on the street. Her effervescent high spirits and knack for seeing the good in any situation are put to serious test in a series of offbeat encounters with men—a handsome school counselor (Samuel Roukin), a mysterious homeless man (Stanley Townsend), and, most especially, the bundle of contradictions who is her driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan). Hawkins is superb in fleshing out Polly’s warmth of spirit, a good-natured generosity that proves much tougher and more realistic than that “happy-go-lucky” label would seem to indicate. Brit auteur Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Topsy Turvy, Vera Drake) gets outstanding ensemble work from the entire cast, with Hawkins and Marsan providing the astonishing centerpiece as the paradoxical couple caught up in an eminently unromantic kind of romance. Pageant Theatre. Rated R