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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Happy-Go-Lucky

Directed by Mike Leigh, this is one of the best films, now in DVD, ever made about the spiritual practice of enthusiasm. The popular preacher Norman Vincent Peale once wrote: “There is real magic in enthusiasm. ... It gives warmth and good feeling to all your personal relationships. Your enthusiasm will be infectious, stimulating and attractive to others.”

Simon Mein/ Courtesy of Miramax Films
Poppy (Sally Hawkins) creates a world of fun for students in her geography class.
Thirty-year-old Poppy (Sally Hawkins) comes across as a playful child as she rides her bike through London, jumps on a trampoline or teaches school. She lights up the lives of the people around her. An osteopath who adjusts her back finds her to be a very grateful person. She tolerates the anger of a passionate flamenco teacher. A young boy at school who is tormenting other kids discovers that she’s a sympathetic soul. Poppy listens closely and is truly present to a homeless man who has trouble expressing himself.

Because she is such a free spirit, she does have trouble with one sister and a negative driving instructor. At one point, her flatmate says to her: “You can’t make everybody happy.” To which Poppy responds, “No harm in trying” (Miramax, 2009, R — for language).


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