Grant Berridge’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mike Leigh is a genius.
Every performance in this film is extraordinary and star quality. Well... the late arrival of Sandra is a little overplayed and affected, but apart from that, it's the most engaging and truthful piece of art I've seen for ages. That's not to say that it's boring and wanky though. It's hilarious, provocative, raw, uncomfortable and jaw-achingly witty.
The protagonist/anti-hero is the most amusingly sociopathic and cynical philosopher since King Lear's fool. You can't agree with him, but you can't easily argue with him. His quick-fire rants are so full of irony and misdirection that its hard to know if he's insane, bitter, scared, lost or just taking the piss.
The dialogue is heavy, rapid and staccato, and delivered through grotesque accents. The characters are all so pitiful that they seem to surprise themselves each time they reach a new low.
Several scenes involve rape and sadistic sexual misconduct, so be warned. This isn't a feel-good story. It's brutally honest but chock full of subtext, and open-ended so that you can draw your own conclusions. You'll have opinions about this movie, and they'll be different from the next guy's. That's my definition of good art.
For example, here's a spoiler and a controversial conversation starter: there are two rapists in the film. One of them knows he'll be punished for his crime, and is. The other knows he'll get away with it, and does. He drives off rich and happy in his Porsche. Subtext: Optimism is a good lifestyle choice... even if you're a sadistic rapist. What conclusions did you draw?