A clever gimmick that works thanks to a roundly strong delivery
Binge-drinking. Consumerism. Hooliganism. Slaggishness. Rudeness. Violence. Bigotry. New Labour has been struggling with these signs of our modern society while newspapers like the Daily Mail wring their hands about the country going to hell in a handcart and calling for government to act. Director Joseph Bullman looks back to before this most recent batch of upper-middle class worrying about the actions of the working classes and finds more of the same in the years gone by.
From the start this film is all about the gimmick the same gimmick that looked so clever in the trailers and made me look. That gimmick is not just the idea that all these "modern" problems have existed for hundreds of years but rather the manner in which it does this, by following modern exponents of these qualities and getting them to talk themselves but also delivering passages from diaries, newspapers and parliamentary reports which could easily have been written last week! It is a very clever idea and, although it does occasionally feel too staged to justify the "real" claim, it does work really well.
The contrast between the words from hundreds of years ago and the modern people and settings. The point is a simple one but it is well made. At times I did wonder quite what it was telling me because it did seem to be excusing all these "sins" and offering a bit too much of a hymn to the working classes. However it does balance itself reasonably well because, while the characters may say its all fine, the images of debauchery and violence do tend to suggest that it is not. Likewise the film does allow the main character to break down at the end in a way that suggests that although his "problem" is not new, it is nonetheless a "problem".
The cast of normal people are impressive although it did make me wonder how Bullman filmed it and got these people to remember so much dialogue and deliver it so well on drunken streets etc. I hope they weren't actors and I'm told they're not, but seeing it done so well did make me wonder. The thing that impressed me was how much I looked down my nose at most of the people but then also found them to be real people intelligent, hardworking and friendly, outside of their "sin". In this way it is a challenging film but then I still wouldn't want to engage in their world. Bullman's direction of the interviews, street scenes etc is really good and the film is well put together.
Overall then, a simple point that is well made apart from occasionally appearing to excuse the "sins". The gimmick is engaging and enjoyable throughout but isn't the whole show thanks to the good selection of "working class" people to tell their own stories while also referencing back across hundreds of years.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?