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Carla's Song
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Reviews & Ratings for
Carla's Song More at IMDbPro »

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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A young woman's harrowing tale

Author: Carlos A. Morales from NJ, USA
12 December 2004

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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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

One of the best British Films of the Nineties

10/10
Author: anonymous from Durham, England
26 February 1999

It is easy to overlook this Ken Loach film. Critics had not been so kind about the excellent Land and Freedom as they had been in the past, and Carla's song didn't fare that well either. It seems difficult to understand why. The inimicable brand of social realism is there as is the focus on the experiences and emotions of the individual. There is even the trademark visual in-joke.

More than any other character in the recent past I cared for Carla. All performances are exceptional. What we have here is social realism that expands into political statement and ultimately human tragedy.

If at all possible, try to see this film. Carlisle's broad Scottish accent may make it difficult to follow for the non-initiated, but persevere, and you will be rewarded.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A fairly mixed affair that fails to pull anything off that well

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
4 August 2006

George Lennox is a bus driver in Glasgow who tries to go about his business in a cheerful, helpful and understanding way. When a ticket inspector takes issue with a young woman over as little as 40p, George helps her out and lets her get away. Later, the Nicaraguan exile finds George and gives him a gift to say thanks, but doesn't stay around any longer than that. George is both concerned for her and attracted to her and keeps pushing, but she withdraws more and more. Messing up her lodgings, George gets Carla a new place and tries to get to know her, unaware of where his relationship with her will take him.

A hard sell back in 1996 when it was released, not many people paid to see this and in a way it is still a hard sell now, perhaps appealing most to those who will always make the effort to see Ken Loach's work. The reason that it perhaps failed to grab an audience is that the film itself isn't sure what it is trying to do – and as a result is a bit fragmented and split. The film opens in a faltering way and it didn't convince me in how quickly it brought along George and Carla in the first stages. After this their relationship is a bit more convincing as it is brought on naturally as trust grows. At this stage Nicaragua is part of her character rather than the whole story. Gradually then suddenly the film becomes more about Nicaragua and George & Carla's relationship becomes the device to get him (the audience's eyes) into the country to learn all about it. I felt a bit like my interest in the people had been thrown out the window, and the vague attempt to make it about them towards the end didn't convince me. Loach directs with earnestness but he cannot make this work as either a political education or a character piece; varying wildly between being preachy and being touching.

The cast try hard to find this middle ground and to their credit they do pretty well. Carlyle does well to bring out a real person in George, covering up the question marks early on. He is left a bit high and dry in the second half but does his best. The same could be said of Carla, who is a person in the first half and a journey in the second. Cabezas delivers the role as well as she can and is natural and convincing throughout. Glenn has an obvious role but he is a good presence. The rest of the support cast is solid enough but the problems is with the material, not with any of the cast.

Overall then a fairly mixed affair that is as affecting as it is preachy. Easy to see why it failed to get much of an audience as it makes for an uneasy mix of ideas that don't really come off – failing to educate much more than on a superficial level and failing to produce a real character piece (that would have been better).

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

This film really surprised me... a real masterpiece!!

10/10
Author: Marjorie Bendeck from Mexico City
26 April 1999

I am a great admirer of Ken Loach, the way he can make you get emotionally involved in the plots of his movies and how he designs his movies so one can fully comprehend the social situation his characters are living. The atmospheres created by him show us examples of a social realism confronted by modern day people (especially in England).

When I started watching this movie, I really had no idea of the turn it would take. When it turned out that "Carla" was from Nicaragua, and it was taking place in the time of heavy war, I didn't imagine the masterfulness with which he recreated the events. Since I live in Honduras, I was very well informed and concerned about the Nicaraguan revolution. All the scenes, the music and the whole environment really caused a great impact on me. I could swear I was watching a documentary instead of a movie. Living near that country and being in contact with its people helped me understand the hardships they went through. And the situation painted by Loach of how the Nicaraguans felt and reacted about the war was incredibly realistic!!

Carlyle's character was superb!! He showed emotions that were very pure and sincere not only to "Carla" but to the whole situation. He was just too good a person, he showed us unselfish feelings that nowadays are very hard to find in our society, which is oriented mainly to material purposes rather than spiritual fulfillment.

This is the kind of humanistic films that should be made to teach people about the "real world" and true, unselfish comprehensive and devoted love. A love that goes so deep that one is willing to do anything for the other's happiness and wellbeing... even if it means letting them go.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A young woman's harrowing tale

Author: Carlos A. Morales from NJ, USA
12 December 2004

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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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

interesting mix of whimsy and woe

Author: mctrane from Eugene, Oregon
10 February 2002

Ken Loach is a remarkable storyteller. Notice how subtly Carlyle's George changes from a loveable lout to noble lover; now find a recent Hollywood film that accomplishes something even close. Moving dramatically from the grey grime of Glasgow to the green pandemonium of Nicaragua in 1987, this film charts a remarkable story of how international politics becomes an international dance of love becomes international politics.

The reviewer who argues that the film glorifies the Sandinistas has it all wrong (except perhaps in the world of doublespeak where simply to treat the Sandinistas with sympathy is to glorify them . . .) Loach rather glorifies the kind of loving devotion that leads George to make a remarkable self-abnegating gesture at the end of the film. Even as I believe that the film is primarily about the love between Carla and George, I am happy for the legions of viewers in the U.S. who, upon watching this film, might be inspired to investigate what the U.s. was up to in Nicaragua in the 1980's. As Noam Chomsky so calmly puts it, U.S. involvement in sponsoring terrorism against the Sandinista government is a completely "non-controversial" issue (underlying strong, though naturally unenforceable acts of censure against the U.S. from both the World Court and U.N.). In the film, Scott Glenn has a few nice moments articulating this position. Very worthwhile. And when we finally hear Carla's song, it is moving indeed.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful! sensitive. human. sad! realistic. touching.

8/10
Author: Ewi
15 June 1999

A very beautiful and touching movie. Shows characters in a very sensitive way. A realistic film about people and the effect of terrible traumas (war) on them. It felt very sad. The movie really moved me what doesn't usually happen. Very recommended.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good reality

Author: jtur88 from Michigan
5 December 2001

I will always recommend a picture that reflects the reality of a place, and Carla's Song shows Nicaragua very authentically. That, in addition the fact that the film was a quality piece overall. You will see the Nicaragua that I saw, very faithfully represented (I'm not talking about the politics, an issue I will stay away from. Just the reflection on the feel of the country.) As the story developed in Scotland, I said to myself "I just know this is going to turn into a hokey travelogue when they get to Nicaragua". But that's not what happened. Bravo!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The other side of the story

8/10
Author: Back_Row_Babe from Reading, Berkshire
9 May 2006

I saw this first at the Watershed in Bristol, a celebration of that city's twinning arrangement with the Nicaraguan town of Puerto Morazan. The town had just been devastated by Hurricane Mitch and the ensuing floods, yet the resourceful people of Morazan had emerged from the disaster without loss of life, and yet again they got on with their lives. They are used to this, after generations of bouncing back from flood, volcano, earthquake, military dictatorship and the hegemony of the global megacorporations backed by the US government. And their representatives tell us that Ken Loach's film gives their small voice a hearing.

This is my favourite amongst Loach's films. It combines its political message - an important one - with comedy and a touching love story. It should be better known.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Rudie Can't Fail

8/10
Author: valis1949 from United States
30 October 2010

In CARLA'S SONG, Ken Loach focuses his brand of UK social realism on The Contras and Sandinistas. The film recounts the story of a Scottish bus driver, played by Robert Carlyle, who falls in love with a beautiful woman from Nicaragua. She has been physically and psychically wounded in the revolutionary conflict of that country, and they both journey to Nicaragua in an attempt put her life back together. At face value, this seems like a weak or far fetched premise for a film, yet CARLA'S SONG demonstrates a very real and intense chemistry between the two lovers. Robert Carlyle is most convincing with his extemporaneous ad libs and off-hand comments, and they really added a sincere warmth to his character. However, subtitles were desperately needed for the Spanish speaking parts of the film, and a large chunk of the Scottish dialog was nearly uninterpretable. Overall, CARLA'S SONG renders an accurate portrait of 1980's working poor in Scotland, and a realistic view of the Sandinista Freedom Fighters as seen through the prism of a world class love affair.

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