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  • Writer's pictureMarkus Essien

Life Is Sweet

The movie that made me want to make movies.

In general, Mike Leigh's early movies were slice-of-life affairs, where plot was less important than the intimate portraits he created. The audience was given the privilege of watching unremarkable people in unremarkable circumstances make masterful cinema. No easy feat.

Life is Sweet is one my favorite Mike Leigh films but hadn't watched it since renting it on VHS—it's been a while. Over the years, I had intermittently looked for it on streaming platforms but to no avail. It seemed tragic that it was so difficult to find such a cinematic masterpiece. Finally, I received a blue-ray copy for Christmas this year. The gift was no surprise. Once I had discovered that it was available, I had put it on my Christmas list and knew that I was likely to get it. But when I unwrapped it on Christmas morning, I wept. I was as surprised as anyone by my reaction, though it took little time for me to understand why.

I knew that I had liked the film—after all, I had asked Santa for it—yet over the years, I had somehow forgotten that Leigh's unassuming story about a chef, his wife, a plumber, and an inactive activist was the inspiration for my own filmmaking journey. And in that moment of unwrapping, it all came rushing back. That's it. Plain and simple. I had me a happy little cry.

To be inspired is one of life's greatest gifts, and I invite you to hold fast to what inspires you—and to rediscover it if you've lost it. That's it. Plain and simple.

Markus Essien is a writer, filmmaker, and musician, currently living in Aurora, Colorado, USA.

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