A tribute to reformers past and present

Egalitarian director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Another Year) here addresses the 1819 massacre by British soldiers of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Manchester. This will be kind of a slog for those lacking the patience to appreciate what Leigh is doing. Though the period detail is immersive (down to the authentic regional accents), don’t mistake this beautifully scripted film for a costume drama. The (many, many) characters are vivid, the acting superb and the message resonant in today’s Brexit Britain. I enjoyed the comic bickering among both the protesters and the oppressors as to who was in charge. (154 min)