Cyril (Philip Davis), a motorcycle messenger, and Shirley (Ruth Sheen), a city tree planter, are counterculture refugees from the 60s now living in Margaret Thatcher’s England. Trying to hold on to their ideals in a culture caught up in money fever takes a lot of stamina. While they help out a thoroughly baffled rube from the countryside who is lost in the city, others seems to lack the human touch. Cyril’s sister Valerie (Heather Tobias) treats their elderly and depressed mother (Edna Dore) shabbily, and the old lady’s gentrified neighbors look down their noses at her when she is locked out of her home.
In this idiosyncratic movie, writer and director Mike Leigh tackles subjects others would strenuously avoid, such as the moral bankruptcy of materialism, and the class animosity between the rich and the poor. High Hopes is the kind of English film that lingers in the mind both as a social satire and as a a rumpled portrait of endearing oddballs who still march to the beat of their own internal drummers.