Boredom: Mike Leigh’s Meantime and Working-Class Youth in Thatcher’s Britain

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This article traces the socio-cultural effect of neoliberalism on working-class youths by analysing Mike Leigh’s cinematic portrayal of boredom in Thatcher’s Britain, Meantime. As a state of disenchantment that stems from a sense of inadequacy, boredom in his films afflicts unemployed young people living in London, whose everyday life is pervaded by the sense of being excluded by the dominant national narrative of free-market capitalism. In various locations, boredom emerges in the daily experience of the characters, who feel the disconnection between officially sanctioned national aspirations and their own private sense of failure. For Mark and Colin, the city is an empty place where the demolition of traditional working-class culture has left them no story to tell about themselves. Exploring how the affective value of the national fantasy influences the reproduction of a lifestyle that can be inherently damaging to those who invest in it, I argue that boredom in the film nonetheless possesses an unexpected utility that runs counter to Thatcher’s neoliberal vision of development and progress, and provides these young people with an opportunity to reimagine ways of keeping on living together in a time of crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-97
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jan

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Edinburgh University Press.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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