After being fired from her job, Angie teams up with her flatmate to find employment for immigrants.After being fired from her job, Angie teams up with her flatmate to find employment for immigrants.After being fired from her job, Angie teams up with her flatmate to find employment for immigrants.
These issues arise from the grey area that is the cheap foreign labour market in the UK. Loach explores the exploitation of cheap immigrant labour in East London with the insight, fluidity, humour and sensitivity that I have come to expect of him. He encourages the viewer to reflect on the lives of thousands upon thousands of immigrants from diverse countries and societies who are crassly lumped together, dehumanized and simplified, lives that most native Londoners take for granted.
Though impartiality has never been one of Loach's strong points, It's A Free World . is refreshing in that it does not demonize the Brits who exploit foreign labour. Nor does it look for easy answers to the problems of immigration. Rather it has an understanding of the lure of easy money for British people with few options in life themselves. The film suggests that the larger culpability might lie with governing institutions that have lost control of the situation, and so have freed up the conditions for exploitation. Also, the message of the film seems to extend to most of us, being British citizens, as we daily and casually project our own sense of individual freedom onto the wider world around us. But for newer people, living precariously in our midst, the same world is far from a free one.
It may be argued that Loach's main aim with the film has therefore been achieved. However, on the negative side, It's A Free World's characterization and plot feels contrived. This is particularly true of the main character, Angie. It may not be a free world for many, but it certainly can be a strange world, and I am sure a single mum and biker babe who happens to be a redundant recruitment consultant could start up her own illegal recruitment agency. However, such a quirky character sits oddly with Loach's down-to-earth, everyday approach, which would make Angie look contrived and unbelievable if the non-professional actor in her first role, Kierston Wareing, did not play her so brilliantly, finding the humanity in her character so well.
Certain clichéd characters add to the film feeling contrived. This includes not only the censorious old boy who is Angies' father, which must now surely be a cliché of left-wing films, and Angie's casual boyfriend, a handsome, almost-angelic, two-dimensional Pole (written this way presumably to counter the gutter press' jaundiced cliché of a male immigrant, but such a two-dimensional character does not serve the film). This relationship feels laboured because it only exists to conveniently, and all-too-obviously, personalize the main character's external dilemma.
Still, It's A Free World is an engaging and enlightening film, even if it feels contrived.
- Sep 26, 2007