Film Reviews, News & Competitions



A Mike Leigh Double Bill


Posted December 7, 2021 by


Anyone who missed the fantastic Mike Leigh career retrospective at BFI Southbank during October and November will be delighted to learn that two of the jewels in the season – new remasters of his directorial debut Bleak Moments and Cannes-darling Naked – are available on Blu-ray with ridiculously generous special features. 

These two films present Leigh at his absolute darkest – and best, and it’s a real treat for fans and newcomers alike to be able to experience them in this glorious quality. While none of the films particularly scream festive cheer, both will make excellent stocking fillers for the film fan in your life this Christmas…


Sylvia (Anne Raitt) leads a quiet life caring for her sister Hilda (Sarah Stephenson) who has complex care needs. Their lonely suburban existence is accentuated by a social awkwardness that detaches them from the community and fuels a life of seclusion and despair.

Released in 1971 to critical acclaim, Mike Leigh’s debut feature film is a haunting study of social isolation. Uncompromising and deeply affecting, the film introduced Leigh’s unique and highly influential natural style that he has continued to develop over a 50 year career.

A true landmark in the history of British film, Bleak Moments has been remastered by the BFI and is presented on Blu-ray for the very first time.


  • Newly remastered by the BFI, overseen by Dick Pope and approved by Mike Leigh
  • Audio commentary by writer and director Mike Leigh (2015)
  • Bleak Moments: 50 Years On (2021, 9 mins): a short interview with Mike Leigh as he looks back on his debut feature
  • In Conversation: Mike Leigh and Leslie Blair (1972, 28 mins): in this rare archive interview director Mike Leigh and producer and editor Leslie Blair discuss Bleak Moments
  • Interview with Mike Leigh (2019, 36 mins): filmed after a screening of his 1976 film Nuts in May, Mike Leigh discusses his early career and his approach to filmmaking with film programmer Neil McGlone
  • Image Gallery
  • **FIRST PRESSING ONLY** illustrated booklet with a new essay on the film by Ellen Cheshire, original Sight and Sound review and full film credits


Johnny (David Thewlis) is a frenetic and destructive outsider who tears through the lives of others like an emotional tornado. On the run from Manchester, he seeks sanctuary with his ex-girlfriend Louise (Lesley Sharp) in London, where he immediately targets her vulnerable housemate Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge) with his unique blend of predatory charm. From there he embarks on a nocturnal odyssey across the city, dragging other disaffected souls into his orbit as he spirals towards his own personal apocalypse.

Featuring a razor-sharp script and direction by Mike Leigh and brilliantly claustrophobic cinematography by Dick Pope, this Cannes-winning film is a masterful, controversial and totally unforgettable exploration of society in free-fall at the tail end of Thatcher’s Britain.


  • Newly remastered in 4K by the BFI National Archive under the supervision of cinematographer Dick Pope and approved by Mike Leigh
  • Audio commentary with Mike Leigh, David Thewlis and Katrin Cartlidge
  • The Short & Curlies (1987, 17 mins): Mike Leigh’s short film starring Alison Steadman and David Thewlis centres on a hairdresser and her daughter and the romance between a woman who works in a chemist and a man who mainly communicates through jokes
  • Mike Leigh and Dick Pope on Naked (2021, 26 mins): newly recorded interview with Mike Leigh and his long-time cinematographer as they discuss the making of Naked
  • The Guardian Interview: Mike Leigh (2002, 45 mins): the director is interviewed by film critic Derek Malcolm at the National Film Theatre
  • Image gallery
  • Trailer
  • **FIRST PRESSING ONLY** Fully illustrated booklet with a new essay on the film by Caitlan, ‘Leigh on London’, a look at the filmmaker’s long relationship with the capital by Lou Thomas, writing on The Short & Curlies by Vic Pratt and full film credits


BLEAK MOMENTS and NAKED are available now on Blu-ray from BFI


Samuel Love

Freelance writer. Email:


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