A morality tale of xenophobia, religious prejudice, mob violence, poverty, and their effect on two children in Liverpool during the Depression. When a shipyard closes, Liam and Teresa's dad loses his job. Liam, who's about 8, making his first Holy Communion, gets a regular dose of fire and brimstone at church. Teresa, about 13, has a job as a maid to the Jewish family that owns the closed shipyard. The lady of that house is having an affair, and Teresa becomes an accomplice. Liam stutters terribly, especially when troubled. Dad comes under the sway of the Fascists, who blame cheap Irish labor and Jewish owners. A Molotov cocktail brings things to a head. Written by
Having seen the (in my opinion excellent) "Dirty Pretty Things" before, I knew pretty well what to expect from Stephen Frears. I expected to see a socially engaged drama and that's exactly what I got. This time however, the movie is situated during the time of the Depression and not at the present day. But being very interested in that time period, that was just another fine reason to watch this movie.
It tells the story of two young children in Liverpool during the Depression, called Liam and Teresa. When their dad loses his job at the ship yard, their family is facing very difficult times. Blaming the cheap Irish labor and the rich Jewish owners, their dad joins the fascists. In the mean time Liam is about to make his first Holy Communion, which makes it even more difficult for the poor family, because it will cost them too much money on new clothes. Their father, too proud and stubborn to ask for help, hating the church for their immoral behavior (monthly asking for more money, while they already have so much and the family hasn't got anything left) and hating all people who aren't 'English' he decides to go for drastic measures. But just as his hatred reaches its top, it will all explode into his own face...
When you aren't able to face criticism on the Catholic church, you better don't even think about watching this movie. You'll find plenty of it from the beginning until the end and I know that not too many people like that or are able to cope with it, believing that it is not true or perhaps exaggerated. But it has to be said that it isn't wrong. Despite what many of you might believe, this was really the way how it all went at that time (My mother told me several times that even in the fifties and sixties this was still common practice). However, when you are able to cope with that anti-religious 'fanatism', you'll see that this is a very good and relevant social drama. The story does a very good job in showing the poverty, the rise of fascism, the desperation and the tough grip that the Catholic church had on the ordinary man and woman. Of course, this story would have been nothing if it hadn't been supported by a fine cast. Especially the young Anthony Borrows did a very nice job, but the other actors like Ian Hart, Claire Hackett, Megan Burns,... sure deserve to be mentioned as well.
Overall this is a very nice movie with a very good story, some fine acting and a sober, but powerful message. I really liked what I saw and I consider this as the second hit for Stephen Frears. I give it a 7.5/10.
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