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1987, love in time of war. A bus driver George Lennox meets Carla, a Nicaraguan exile living a precarious, profoundly sad life in Glasgow. Her back is scarred, her boyfriend missing, her family dispersed; she's suicidal. George takes her to Nicaragua to find out what has happened to them and to help her face her past. Once home, Carla's nightmarish memories take over, and Carla and George are thrown into the thick of the US war against the Sandinistas. A mystery develops over where Carla's boyfriend is, and the key to his whereabouts may be Carla's friend Bradley, a bitter American aid worker. She finds her family, the Contras attack, and she and the Scot face their choices. Written by
I am Nicaraguan by birth, but stayed away from politics while I lived in that country, although my family and myself experienced the anxiety, and sometimes the horror, of living under a totalitarian regime, even one supported by the US, such as the Somoza dynasty. Although I left for the USA three years before the final triumph of the Sandinista revolution, I visited the country many times during the Sandinistas' 10-year rule, and saw first-hand the good and bad sides of the revolution, as well as the economic hardships caused by President Reagan's (though Olly North and the CIA) support of the counter-revolutionary thugs called "contras", who decimated a whole generation of young people in that unfortunate country.
I watched this movie last night and was impressed by how true to life Ken Loach managed to keep it. Although to some people it might appear as propaganda, my own experience tells me that everything that was depicted in the film (as far as the situation in Nicaragua in 1987 is concerned) was very realistic. The enthusiasm, especially among the poor and young for the revolution was true, I saw it with my own eyes. The fervor of the literacy campaign volunteers was admirable, even though some of them were targeted as "strategic" targets by the contra forces. Also targeted for destruction were health centers (which had never before existed in many remote villages), grain silos, tobacco sheds, etc., in the areas bordering Honduras, which is where Carla's family lives. The nighttime contra raid was very realistic, I must say, even though I myself never had to live through one. But I knew people who did. The cruelty of the contras depicted in the movie was well documented by American and other media at the time.
Oyanka Cabezas' portrayal of the young woman is remarkable, and Robert Carlyle's young bus driver is spot-on. The role of Scott Glen as a reformed CIA agent, although good, is the only one I could find fault with for being a little political and perhaps preachy, but I think his comments were based on facts.
In summary, I enjoyed the film very much. You don't have to be political to appreciate injustice, poverty, love and human decency. These human vices and virtues are all very well portrayed in this story. Kudos to all involved in its making.
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