Annie and Hannah have not seen each other in the six years since they
left University. As Annie embarks on a train trip to reunite with her old
friend, she is flooded with memories of their rocky introduction in the
mid-80's: a shy, introverted teenager who continuously breaks out in a nervous
rash, she moves in with Hannah, a bright fellow student who is manic, hilariously
funny, and occasionally cruel. It is apparent from the outset that both
young women are bound to benefit from the budding friendship and their contrasting
personalities, with Annie toughening up and learning to deal with life's
hard knocks and Hannah learning to hold her tongue and become more compassionate.
Back to the present, Annie departs the train to meet Hannah, and not without
a bit of apprehension. Looking around the station for her old friend, Annie
is startled, then delighted to see a subdued, sophisticated, thirty-year
old version of Hannah approaching her. Thus begins their reunion weekend
which will stir up many old memories and inspire them to re-evaluate not
just their friendship, but their lives.
CAREER GIRLS, Mike Leigh's latest film, is a funny and poignant story of
friendship, youth, love and memories, starring Katrin Cartlidge (NAKED,
BREAKING THE WAVES) and newcomer Lynda Steadman. Filmed with Leigh's by-now
patented blend of verbal, visual and behavioral comedy, CAREER GIRLS is
set in London over a weekend, and follows Hannah (Cartlidge) and Annie (Steadman),
as they catch up and reflect on the early days of their friendship. We see
flashbacks of their lives in the mid-80s which is full of the usual mischief,
jealousies and heartbreak that comes with youth. It is through these memories,
and a few chance encounters over the weekend with both old and new acquaintances,
that we come to see how they've changed, yet find that their close bond
remains, and even deepens.
As with all of Mike Leigh's films, CAREER GIRLS features extraordinary acting,
with Katrin Cartlidge giving a star-making comedic performance and Lynda
Steadman, in her feature film debut, proving herself to be another major
Leigh discovery, in the tradition of, among others, David Thewlis and Cartlidge
in NAKED, and Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in SECRETS &
LIES. Also outstanding are three actors who play the men they encounter
earlier in their lives and over the reunion weekend, including Mark Benton
as their sad, awkward friend; Joe Tucker as an old acquaintance who once
broke both their hearts; and, in a hilarious turn, Andy Serkis as an obnoxious
yuppie, attempting to unload his apartment -- and himself - on the friends.
CAREER GIRLS features an original score by Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Tony
Remy in the contemporary scenes and songs by The Cure in the 80s' flashbacks.
Similarly, Leigh uses separate shooting styles for the past and present
sequences, contrasting the women as they are today with how they remember
their younger selves.