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May be seen by some as a bit one sided and self indulgent, but still admirably done
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Ken Loach has quite a backlog of work as a performance film maker, but his latest work, laying his unashamed socialist leanings firmly on the line, is presented in a documentary format. Loach thrusts us back in time to the immediate post war years, where with a country in ruins and millions sick and injured, there was no shortage of work and so the people had the power, coming together to re-build the country and form one huge powerful united front that let them decide their own fate, all under the thrust of a powerful Labour movement. The real main objective of the movement was not to go back to the appalling poverty of before the war, which nobody noticed and was just accepted by those who lived in it. Flash forward twenty five years or so, to the arrival of Thatcher.
The main trouble, when politics is presented as art, is that you are naturally going to spur on and impress those who agree with you and form the most spiteful critics out of those who think you don't know what you're talking about. Like the most high horsed (but probably best) Michael Moore offering, Ken Loach here bombards us with a presentation of faces, talking heads, if you will, of a mostly much older generation who vividly bring the original socialist movement back to life, and try to paint a portrait of the sort of things that originally spurned it on.
Reminding me of Moore's work a little, as it does, it's all naturally quite one sided and could even be seen as somewhat self indulgent/important, but where Loach gets it right is by managing to make the film's argument so persuasive anyway, genuinely managing to craft a scene where the poor/lower classes generally had no voice and by realizing their combined power, improved things for themselves and their families, only to have it all snatched back from them many years later.
It's obvious, and really not very subtle, the way Loach, by filming the whole thing in black and white, is aiming for an art house vibe, but it backfires, resulting in a drearier presentation, a natural result of something with no colour and light. It might have worked better if he'd interspersed the happier times with some colour and flavour, and kept the dull grey more for the beginning and end. But that's not to say it completely robs the film of any genuine artistic integrity, and it never feels pretentious in any way. It's just the work of a proud and accomplished director, maybe wearing his heart on his sleeve a little, maybe not being as subtle as he could be, but presenting something made with such insight and, well, spirit you can't help but be impressed anyway. ****
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