Vera Drake, starring Imelda Staunton, Richard Graham and Eddie Marsan. Directed by Mike Leigh. 2004. Library Call Number: PN1995.9.S6V46 2005.
Best known for her later work as the creepy, sadistic Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter movies, Imelda Staunton shows her great range by playing a sweet, working-class housewife in 1950’s England. Kind to her friends and devoted to her family, Vera Drake is a lovely saint of a woman, a house-cleaner by day, who also finds the time to care for her sick mother and a handicapped man in the neighborhood and still watch over her husband, son and daughter. Then, at night, she sometimes goes out to help women who have found themselves in some “difficulty.”
Vera Drake shows the shattering effects of criminalizing abortion, both on the unfortunate women facing an unwanted pregnancy and on the sympathetic, well-meaning, but potentially dangerous people who tried to help them. A remarkable film in many ways, not least because, though nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, the actors adlibbed their lines—the Director had to ‘reverse engineer” a screenplay from what was already on film. Staunton was also nominated for Best Actress that year.