Two Latina sisters work as cleaners in a downtown office building, and fight for the right to unionize.

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5 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Pilar Padilla ...
Maya
...
Sam Shapiro
...
Rosa
...
Bert
Monica Rivas ...
Simona
Frankie Davila ...
Luis (as Frank Davila)
...
Anna
Mayron Payes ...
Ben
Maria Orellana ...
Berta
Melody Garrett ...
Cynthia
Gigi Jackman ...
Dolores
Beverly Reynolds ...
Ella
...
Juan (as Eloy Mendez)
Elena Antonenko ...
Maria
Olga Gorelik ...
Olga
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Storyline

Maya is a quick-witted young woman who comes over the Mexican border without papers and makes her way to the LA home of her older sister Rosa. Rosa gets Maya a job as a janitor: a non-union janitorial service has the contract, the foul-mouthed supervisor can fire workers on a whim, and the service-workers' union has assigned organizer Sam Shapiro to bring its "justice for janitors" campaign to the building. Sam finds Maya a willing listener, she's also attracted to him. Rosa resists, she has an ailing husband to consider. The workers try for public support; management intimidates workers to divide and conquer. Rosa and Maya as well as workers and management may be set to collide. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Balance Of Power Is About To Change.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and brief nudity | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

25 October 2000 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Bread & Roses  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£37,890 (UK) (4 May 2001)

Gross:

$525,738 (USA) (6 July 2001)
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Company Credits

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Adrien Brody signed on without a script, because he trusted the director Ken Loach. See more »

Quotes

Sam: Stand up for your fucking rights!
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Connections

Referenced in Ocean's Thirteen (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Underwhelming. Yet again.
23 December 2010 | by (Japan) – See all my reviews

Illegal Mexican immigrant Maya (Pilar Padilla) arrives at her big sister's house looking to work with her as an office cleaner. She dodges potential abduction and rape on her hazardous quest to make a better life for herself. However, union organiser Sam (Adrien Brody) convinces her that betterment lies not in slaving for below minimum wage, but in joining his Justice for Janitors campaign.

Watching Bread and Roses I realised that, for many years, my wish to support Ken Loach and Paul Laverty has over-ruled my actual dislike for their films. Bread and Roses references an inspiring story, but the actual relaying of it cinematically by Loach, and in narrative terms by Laverty, is flat and under-realized. The rhythm of the scenes is stuttering, like poor improv or early rehearsals. Sam shows up at big sister Rosa's house, and immediately launches into a pro-union speech like he has known these people for a while. The cleaning company boss is a pantomime villain. There is some kind of spurious romance triangle that never really develops, and a few so-called comedy scenes to ease the intended sense of tragedy, except the whole thing is so uninvolving that it hardly matters.

As much as Laverty cannot characterise beyond two-note archetypes, Loach appears unable to manage shot flow. The camera seems merely plonked down in front of the actors - there is not one frame where the composition seems planned, never mind memorable.

Kes is a masterpiece. But since then, I have sat through Riff Raff, Land and Freedom, Sweet Sixteen, My Name is Joe, Carla's Song, Ae Fond Kiss... and come away underwhelmed each and every time. The themes are oh-so earnest, the politics very correct, the focus on the under-represented, marginalised and disenfranchised laudable in the extreme. It just never seems cinematic. Does Loach ask himself "Why is this topic better as a fiction feature than a documentary?" If he does, I cannot imagine what the answer is.

My father was a car factory shop steward, so I grew up with these issues in my living room. I come from a Glasgow working-class background, so I am empathetic to many of Laverty's chosen arenas. But the bottom line is, I just don't find myself entertained or edified by any of these films. Watching Bread and Roses, I didn't laugh, and I didn't cry. And it was clearly going after both reactions.

Loach does get some great performances at times (e.g. Peter Mullen in My Name is Joe), and here Pilar Padilla as the lead, and Elpidia Carrillo as her long-suffering elder sister Rosa, bring a touch of authentic rawness to the subject. But in a key revelatory scene between the two, the camera is placed at an in-between distance, the cutting arbitrary, and the words seem scripted rather than spontaneous.

Loach and Laverty now have a substantial body of work to their collaboration. Quite simply, I do not understand why.


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