Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is tirelessly devoted to her family, and tends to the needs of her husband and two children, elderly mother, and sick neighbour. Vera also works as a house cleaner to the well-heeled but, unbeknownst to her family, she also "helps young girls out" when they are faced with unwanted pregnancies.

SBS ONE, Wednesday 16 March @ 10.05pm
Exceptional Women Season

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Vera Drake is a cheerful woman with a heart of gold. She hums while cleaning houses, visits sick neighbours and always has a cup of tea on the boil.

Vera also "helps" women out with unwanted pregnancies. In fifties England abortion was a grey area. If you could afford it, you?d attend expensive clinics, but if you couldn't, your options were limited.

Vera is eventually arrested when a woman she helped, becomes violently ill. Vera Drake is a touching drama that quietly observes the post war experience for working class people. It's so realistic you can almost touch the musty wallpaper and feel the despair of the women who seek out Vera's skills.

The acting is superb, especially Imelda Staunton's deeply affecting portrayal as Vera. The film serves as a contemporary reminder about what will happen if abortion is pushed underground again.

It's a controversial area - but Leigh makes no judgements about Vera the abortionist - he simply shows us a world so often ignored.