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Riff-Raff (1991)

Unrated | | Comedy, Drama | 12 February 1993 (USA)
The story of Stevie, a construction worker, and his girlfriend, an unemployed pop singer, serves to show the living conditions of the British poor class


Ken Loach


Bill Jesse (screenplay)
3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Carlyle ... Stevie
Emer McCourt ... Susan
Jim R. Coleman Jim R. Coleman ... Shem (as Jimmy Coleman)
George Moss George Moss ... Mo
Ricky Tomlinson ... Larry
David Finch David Finch ... Kevin
Richard Belgrave Richard Belgrave ... Kojo
Ade Sapara ... Fiaman
Derek Young Derek Young ... Desmonde
Bill Moores Bill Moores ... Smurph
Luke Kelly Luke Kelly ... Ken Jones
Gary Lammin ... Mick (as Garrie J. Lammin)
Willie Ross Willie Ross ... Gus Siddon
Dean Perry Dean Perry ... Wilf
Dylan O'Mahony Dylan O'Mahony ... Youth


The story of Stevie, a construction worker, and his girlfriend, an unemployed pop singer, serves to show the living conditions of the British poor class Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 February 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lim-lom See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The accents of the characters was so heavy that the film provided subtitles, even for British audiences. See more »


Between 7:56 and 8:00 minutes into the movie, as Robert Carlyle enters his squat for the first time, you can clearly see the boom under the ceiling and the boom operator on the left as Robert walks by. See more »


Steve: This laboring, it's only temporary... Laboring, crap, boxer shorts... good.
See more »


Spread A Little Happiness
Composed by Sting (as Gordon Sumner) and Vivian Ellis
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User Reviews

Powerful 1980's Thatcherite comedy-drama that is well worth watching.
21 October 2004 | by Pedro_HSee all my reviews

It is rare that a drama is anything about your life or any part of it. I apologise is your job is searching for serial killers or on your way to becoming a world sporting champion after overcoming cancer, but what we have here is a little bit of (UK) working class reality. Trust me I was there and so was the late writer Bill Jess.

(Jess died shortly before this film came out.)

I worked on a building sites at weekends as a 15 year old and although I have no pictures or film to remind - at least I have this and the buildings that I helped construct.

I have met all of the people under the loop here (not always on building sites though) and, to be quite frank, it is all a bit frightening. However I lived in a predominantly white district so I had no experience of on-the-job multiculturalism, and that is the only part I cannot really comment upon or relate to.

Robert Carlyle is a genius at portraying the British working-class. Maybe he is the real thing, in part, but he seems able to transform himself physically as well as mentally. I have never seen him overact in anything and he has had plenty of opportunities. He even takes on impossible parts like Hitler!

Here he is a Glasgow jailbird, squatting in London and hoping to make a few quid on the black economy. He hooks up with a girl that claims to be a singer and poet, but is actually only in to hard drugs. He deals with the situation the best he can using the only language he can.

London is the 1980's was one of the cheapest places in the world to live. You wanted a flat? - get a crowbar - here's your flat! Well for a short while before the heavy mob show up. That is how the rock group The Police first got to live in our capital city!

(Today building sites are full of foreign workers - some legal, some not - that don't squat but live in the back of vans parked on or near the site.)

Strangely, Ricky Tomlinson became a actor after being banned from building sites due to his political activities. In 1973 he sent to jail (see his IMDb bio) in an episode that shows British justice at its worst: Charging someone with a serious offence and then trying to get a guilty plea in return for a lesser charge. Ricky - being a man not a mouse - didn't fall for it. Others did, making it look extra bad for him.

He later went to be a popular man on TV and British film and will earn over a million dollars from his autobiography "Ricky"!

What makes this film even more frightening is the dramatic conclusion. Something similar (although not quite as serious) happened where I worked - although not while I was there.

In a coincidence that would make a TV script writer blush I was with the boss of the said firm in a van and we passed the subject in the street. "He got very lucky," said Mr Boss-man waving from the van, "he landed on his head and that is what saved him." It was pure Ken Loach moment, so I hope he is reading this.

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