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 ... See full summary »
This Ken Loach docu-drama relates the story of a British woman's fight with Social Services over the care of her children. Maggie has a history of bouncing from one abusive relationship to ... See full summary »
This Ken Loach film tells the story of a man devoted to his family and his religion. Proud, though poor, Bob wants his little girl to have a beautiful (and costly) brand-new dress for her ... See full summary »
Angie gets the sack from a recruitment agency for bad behaviour in public. Seizing the chance, she teams up with her flatmate, Rose, to run a similar business from their kitchen. With ... See full summary »
Spring 1936, a young unemployed communist, David, leaves his hometown Liverpool to join the fight against fascism in Spain. He joins an international group of Militia-men and women, the ... See full summary »
A train travels across Italy toward Rome. On board is a professor who daydreams a conversation with a love that never was, a family of Albanian refugees who switch trains and steal a ticket... See full summary »
Ken Loach is a truly exceptional film-maker. Like Bunuel, he has seemingly risen from the dead (during Thatcher's reign) and re-emerged as an international force. I found his latest film "My name is Joe" to be a hugely enjoyable affair, perhaps a little less abrasive and direct than his earlier efforts, like "Poor cow" and "Family life". Even so, he depicts "working class"- people with the same warmth and insight as before.
The main character is Joe, a jobless reformed alcoholic in Glasgow with a heart of gold. In the attempt to better the lot of those around him, (and forget his self-loathing) Joe organizes a football team and makes house-calls on those in need of support, especially Liam and Sabine, a young couple in dire straits. Liam owes 500 pounds to the local drug-dealer, and Sabine has likewise racked up a debt. Joe tries his best to offer help, but when he is forced to perform a criminal act, he runs the risk of losing his law-abiding girl-friend into the bargain.
Joe is a character whom you instantly like. Even his transgressions won't make you think the worse of him, as he quite obviously suffers from what he's done. Joe wants to lead a "normal" life, stay on the right side of the law, get a girlfriend and what have you. But he just can't juggle off his past as a drunkard, he can't get off the dole and so hasn't the means to move away from his run-down apartment, his rotten little suburb. His only hope is to get someone to love him, someone to lift him out of the rut, to boost his self-esteem.
It is, for sure, a touching, humane story, beautifully scripted, shot in a simple style, and with a wonderful central performance by Peter Mullan. My question is, is it more? Is MNIJ a valid comment on deprived communities in Britain today? Do there still exist working class ethics like the ones Loach depicts in this movie? And are they still as relevant as when Britain was poor back in the 60' ies, the decade of Loach's first movies?
Granted, there are still poor, neglected people aplenty, but do they behave like this? This movie seems a little on the soft side compared to say Gillian MacKinnon's "Small faces", and even "Trainspotting". "MNIJ, I feel, is more of a self-contained Chekhovian drama than an attack on our bourgeois sensibilities.
(The soundtrack, by the way, consists mostly of dangerously out-dated glam-rock material from the 70' ies. Painful stuff!) Call me flippant, but I didn't feel like hitting a drug dealer, or tearing the social fabric after watching this movie. Perhaps it should have hurt more. Even so, it's a fabulous film by a unique director.
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