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 »
During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after ten years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.
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 »
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 immigrants desperate to work the opportunities are considerable, particularly for two girls so in tune with these times. Written by
Loach's Latest Film is Characteristically Engaging And Enlightening, Even If It Feels Contrived
In It's a Free World . Ken Loach demonstrates his continuing commitment to casting his critical, earthy, though engaging eye on present day issues affecting British society, issues that are usually neglected by mainstream British cinema.
These issues arise from the grey area that is the cheap foreign labour market in the UK. Loach explores the exploitation of cheap immigrant labour in East London with the insight, fluidity, humour and sensitivity that I have come to expect of him. He encourages the viewer to reflect on the lives of thousands upon thousands of immigrants from diverse countries and societies who are crassly lumped together, dehumanized and simplified, lives that most native Londoners take for granted.
Though impartiality has never been one of Loach's strong points, It's A Free World . is refreshing in that it does not demonize the Brits who exploit foreign labour. Nor does it look for easy answers to the problems of immigration. Rather it has an understanding of the lure of easy money for British people with few options in life themselves. The film suggests that the larger culpability might lie with governing institutions that have lost control of the situation, and so have freed up the conditions for exploitation. Also, the message of the film seems to extend to most of us, being British citizens, as we daily and casually project our own sense of individual freedom onto the wider world around us. But for newer people, living precariously in our midst, the same world is far from a free one.
It may be argued that Loach's main aim with the film has therefore been achieved. However, on the negative side, It's A Free World's characterization and plot feels contrived. This is particularly true of the main character, Angie. It may not be a free world for many, but it certainly can be a strange world, and I am sure a single mum and biker babe who happens to be a redundant recruitment consultant could start up her own illegal recruitment agency. However, such a quirky character sits oddly with Loach's down-to-earth, everyday approach, which would make Angie look contrived and unbelievable if the non-professional actor in her first role, Kierston Wareing, did not play her so brilliantly, finding the humanity in her character so well.
Certain clichéd characters add to the film feeling contrived. This includes not only the censorious old boy who is Angies' father, which must now surely be a cliché of left-wing films, and Angie's casual boyfriend, a handsome, almost-angelic, two-dimensional Pole (written this way presumably to counter the gutter press' jaundiced cliché of a male immigrant, but such a two-dimensional character does not serve the film). This relationship feels laboured because it only exists to conveniently, and all-too-obviously, personalize the main character's external dilemma.
Still, It's A Free World is an engaging and enlightening film, even if it feels contrived.
39 of 43 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?