|Directed by||Mike Leigh|
|Produced by||Graham Benson|
|Written by||Mike Leigh|
|Edited by||Lesley Walker|
Meantime is a 1983 comedy drama T.V film directed by Mike Leigh, produced by Central Television for Channel 4. It was shown in 1983 at the London Film Festival and on Channel 4 and at the 1984 Berlin International Film Festival. According to the critic Michael Coveney: "The sapping, debilitating and demeaning state of unemployment, the futile sense of waste, has not been more poignantly, or poetically, expressed in any other film of the period."
The film unfolds in brief episodes, detailing the travails of the working-class Pollock family, who live in a shabby flat in a tower block in London's East End. They are struggling to stay afloat during the recession under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's premiership. Only the nagging, put-upon mother Mavis (Pam Ferris) is working; the bitter, feckless father Frank (Jeff Robert) and the couple's two sons Colin (Tim Roth), an extremely shy young man, and Mark (Phil Daniels), his outspoken, headstrong older brother, are on the dole. Their aimless, querulous existence is contrasted with Mavis's sister Barbara (Marion Bailey) and her husband John (Alfred Molina), whose financial and social loftiness in suburban Chigwell serves as a comfortable facade for their lacklustre marriage.
The boys spend their time at home, on the street, at friends' flats, in the unemployment office, and at the local pub. Mark is continually scrounging for cash and cadging drinks from his friends, among them Coxy (Gary Oldman in his screen debut), a crude, impulsive skinhead. Colin has a crush on a sweet-natured girl named Hayley (Tilly Vosburgh), but he can't bring himself to act upon it. Mark mocks his father, teases Colin by calling him "Kermit" and "Muppet," and makes insinuations about Barbara's troubled relationship with her husband. Barbara offers Colin a job helping her redecorate her home, but when Mark shows up, Colin withdraws, refuses to do any work, and finally leaves. When he returns home, he's had his head shaved. There is no resolution to the film, simply a succession of days that present commonplace problems, amusements, conversations, and arguments.
- Marion Bailey as Barbara
- Phil Daniels as Mark
- Tim Roth as Colin
- Pam Ferris as Mavis
- Jeffrey Robert as Frank
- Alfred Molina as John
- Gary Oldman as Coxy
- Tilly Vosburgh as Hayley
- Paul Daly as Rusty
- Leila Bertrand as Hayley's Friend
- Hepburn Graham as Boyfriend
- Peter Wight as Estate Manager
- Eileen Davies as Unemployment Benefit Clerk
- Herbert Norville as Man in Pub
- Brian Hoskin as Barman
- Bryant Court (Pollock family flat), Whiston Road, London E2
- Dunston Road (canal scene), London E2
- 10 Gwynne Park Avenue (Barbara and John's house), Woodford Bridge, London IG8 8AB
- Trafalgar Square, London
- Chigwell, north-east London
- Woodford Green, north-east London
One day at the rehearsal space, a factory in Homerton, Roth and Oldman were throwing a milk bottle around. Suddenly Roth threw it up and it hit a fluorescent lighting strip. Leigh saw "...Gary's shaven head erupt into a thousand red blotches; in the film you can see the stitch marks." He rushed Oldman to hospital. "As I drove him there, all done up in his skinhead stuff, covered in blood, Gary said to me, "For fuck's sake, tell 'em I'm an actor!" He could easily have lost his eyesight in the accident, and I do not know to this day what I would have done if that had happened."
- Michael Coveney, The World according to Mike Leigh, p.174
- Coveney, p.176