This Ken Loach docu-drama relates the story of a British woman's fight with Social Services over the care of her children. Maggie has a history of bouncing from one abusive relationship to ...
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This Ken Loach docu-drama relates the story of a British woman's fight with Social Services over the care of her children. Maggie has a history of bouncing from one abusive relationship to another. She has four children, of four different fathers, who came to the attention of Social Services when they were injured in a fire. Subsequently, Maggie was found to be an "unfit mother" and her children were removed from her care. She finally meets the man of her dreams, a Paraguayan expatriate, and they start a family together. Unfortunately, Social Services seems unwilling to accept that her life has changed and rends them from their new children. She and Jorge together, and separately, fight Social Services, Immigration, and other government bureaucrats in a desperate battle to make their family whole again.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
This is a story about a British woman who struggles to keep her children. Ken Loach's movies are always good and they always deal with sad and gritty subjects. The thing that struck me most about this movie was that although I initially felt sympathy for the main character, Maggie, I quickly lost it. She's so upset she is completely uncooperative with the social services people, who are often judgmental and unlikeable, but who are only trying to do their jobs. When Maggie finds a lover who does not abuse her as her earlier partners did, she refuses to appreciate his steadfastness, his decency and his loyalty to her, and she tries to drive him away. I was surprised to find myself so unsympathetic to Maggie. My frustration with her grew, and I found myself saying, aloud, "God, she's impossible!" Even though I didn't like the character, the movie is so good, I could not tear my eyes away from it. Ken Loach is a genius. I think the hardest works are those with unsympathetic main characters. If you still find yourself fascinated, even though you find yourself detesting the protagonist in a movie, it makes the viewing even more memorable. I sometimes feel sad that I have no children; yet, when I see this story, I feel better about it. I also wonder why I cannot muster much sympathy for Maggie, even though I have things in common with the character. Society is especially unforgiving when dealing with parents. In its well-meaning interest in the welfare of the children, it often fails to reach out to the parents who are sometimes quite good people, but who are struggling to cope. Almost everyone could benefit from seeing this movie. It's highly instructive. It makes you think about the roles we, as adults, play in society, and what our responsibilities are. None of the questions and issues raised by this movie are easy to deal with. There are no easy answers. I think both great objectivity and subjectivity are necessary toward finding solutions, and both are seldom possible at the same time; hence, mistakes are made, all around. The character of the good man she finally finds is beautifully played by an unknown actor. I wondered how he could continue to be so good, and yet I felt myself completely frustrated with him and annoyed with him when he tried to explain his reasons for being a political exile from his country of origin in a court hearing. He was so upset that for once, he couldn't think clearly and couldn't express himself adequately. This showed me that despite his "good" qualities, under extreme pressure, he could be as hard to understand and to help as Maggie is. This movie is based on a true story, which is, sadly, not hard to believe. This same type of situation is played out again and again. What to do? Leave children in questionable households, or take them away? Try to see this movie and to share it with someone who is troubled, who has been abused, and who has had problems dealing with administrations of almost any kind. It's very instructive, even though, as I've said, no answers are given.
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