Johnny flees Manchester for London, to avoid a beating from the family of a girl he has raped. There he finds an old girlfriend, and spends some time homeless, spending much of his time ranting at strangers, and meeting characters in plights very much like his own.Written by
John Hartnup <email@example.com>
Razor-sharp social commentary - although too harsh for many stomachs.
An unemployed - but intelligent - social misfit goes on the run to London following a back alley rape, but finds The Capital just as desperate and alienating as his native Manchester.
This is one of the hardest films I have ever had to review. Topics such as urban alienation, career-choice unemployment, leeching, homelessness, drug taking and sexual violence would normally send me running for cover; but what we have here is so well constructed and so skilfully acted that it transcends it own headline topics.
This is a classic case of car-wreck film making: You don't praise or celebrate much, yet it is deeply fascinating and even hypnotic. People are tap dancing on the edge of a metaphorical cliff - some are there of there of their own free will.
Director Mike Leigh's semi-improvisational style doesn't always work, but here it really delivers something unique. You feel that you are watching real life even though too much happens in too short a time period for that to be the case.
This is a wandering odyssey film and features a central performance - by David Thewlis - that ranks along the best ever witnessed in cinema. How the Oscar people could have (totally) turned their back on a performance as a good as this puzzles; although the film and actor won prizes in Cannes and New York.
This is the first film I have ever seen that takes on sexual coercion in a head on fashion. People that have put themselves in a chemical or social situation where someone has something over them. The greasy upper crust landlord (Greg Cruttwell) might seem over-the-top to many but I know a few people actually like that!
(For the record his actions would be deemed illegal in real life - if you have seen the film.)
What happens to the on-screen people the day after this film ends? Has anything really changed? For Johnny - our central anti-hero - it will be just another day to duck and dive, avoid all work and wind people up using his extensive back reading.
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