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The Navigators (2001)
gritty and often hard to watch
This film was very underseen in the USA, though many consider it one of Loach's finest. As a traveler who has seen firsthand what privatization is doing to the UK transportation system, this film struck me as grittily authentic.
As with so many of his films, Loach chooses to address social ills by exploring their effects upon working class characters. But not every plot point has to do with the topic at hand, and that is why the films work well, because the narrative has a life of its own driven by these characters (most of them quite likable although flawed) that goes beyond its "message."
Me Without You (2001)
visually rich and funny
I loved this film. I cannot fathom why the above reviewer calls it "maudlin" and the comparison to Antonia and Jane seems way off base, as does the comment that this is somehow like a Mike Leigh film! (makes me think they have never seen a Mike Leigh film). Also the comment on the "Miranda" character does not inspire confidence since the character's name is Marina!
In any case, this film deftly captures several eras with its complex and lush visual design, reflecting the inner world of Holly who is a creative, romantic soul and the outer surface of Marina who is a chameleon-like, savvy trendsetter. The music is also extremely well-utilized, as are the many pop cultural references that lend authenticity to the changes in chronology without being too obvious.
A fine cast too! Williams and Friel are excellent and their evolution from teenagers to young women to early thirties is convincing and enthralling. I also love Trudy Styler as a pill-popping, slutty- dressing "mom" and Allan Corduner has a solid turn as Holly's kind, befuddled father. Kyle Maclachlan seems somewhat miscast at times but plays the reckless professor well. I also found Oliver Milburn as Nat to be charming, and though she has a small role the French actress who plays his fiancé is great...I last saw her in My Sex Life and she is also terrific in that.
On its surface (the candybox colors, the fluffy music) this might seem like a Brit chick flick but it's really an exploration of what happens when an obsessive friendship grows beyond its usefulness.