Monday, August 01, 2011

It's a Free World...


Directed by Ken Loach and written by Paul Laverty, It’s a Free World… tells the story of an unemployed working-class woman who starts her own business with help of friends and the immigrants she hires. The film is another of Loach’s exploration into the world of the working class in tune with his Socialist views. Starring Kierston Wareing, Juliet Ellis, and Leslaw Zurek. It’s a Free World… is a decent although messy film from Ken Loach.

After being fired from her work in recruiting immigrants for employment, Angie (Kierston Wareing) is seeking for work once again. With help from her friend Rose (Juliet Ellis), she decides to start her own employment agency to help immigrants seeking work. Though Rose is reluctant about this idea, she helps out though Angie gets warning from a foreman named Derek (Frank Gilhooley) about what she is facing. Angie hopes to raise enough money to make a living and spend more time with her son Jamie (Joe Siffleet) who had been living with her parents. While Angie decides to hire immigrants with papers so she wouldn’t cause any trouble, she learns about some troubles as she sees Karol (Leslaw Zurek) whom she met during a working trip to Poland.

Karol helps her out as things start to go well while Angie also helps out an Iranian immigrant (Davoud Rastgou) who came to Britain illegally with his family. Yet, the number of immigrants that Angie is dealing with proves to be overwhelming as money issues start to happen. Derek reveals he couldn’t pay the money she owes to the workers as trouble happens. Angie becomes desperate to save her business as Rose is aware that something is going wrong. Even as Angie does things that would alienate people in order to do what it takes.

The film follows a British woman in her 30s desperate to get work for immigrants to come to England and work. Yet, she is someone with a fiery attitude who doesn’t like to be harassed and is intent to work so she can raise enough money for a life for her and her son whom she hasn’t seen very much. In creating an employment agency for legal immigrants, she hopes to give them work. Yet, creating something of her own without any kind of strong money and deals would end causing trouble for herself and the people she’s trying to help.

Paul Laverty does create a story that is interesting but at times, it meanders a bit while comes off as heavy-handed in some parts when Angie decides to help an Iranian family. While Angie, like a lot of the characters Laverty and Ken Loach create, is a flawed woman that is very interesting. She sometimes comes across as someone who thinks she knows everything where she would argue with her dad about what she’s doing. There comes the old argument about immigration and such which also becomes overbearing. Though Laverty creates a script that has some interesting characters and the situations that is presented, it often comes across as another piece of tiresome social commentary.

Ken Loach’s direction is stylish in its cinema verite approach as he keeps it simple with hand-held shots and other striking compositions for shots around London. Yet, it’s a film that at times isn’t very engaging where there’s not much humor present in the film. Though Loach does try to not make some of the sadder moments go melodramatic, he doesn’t do enough to make it more lively as it falls apart during the third act. It’s in the third act where some of the darker aspects of the underworld happens where the film becomes uneven as Loach wanted to inject more drama to Angie’s own situation. The result is a film that, despite having a central idea and character, doesn’t know what it wants to be.

Cinematographer Nigel Willoughby does some fine work with the cinematography to capture the sunny mornings and evenings of London along with its rainy, dreary shots. Editor Jonathan Morris does good work in the editing in maintaining a straightforward approach to cutting though the pace lags at time throughout the film. Production designer Fergus Clegg and art director Peter James do an excellent job with the look of the film from the homes the characters live in to the decayed trailer homes some of the immigrants live in. Costume designer Carole K. Millar does a nice job with the costumes by bringing some stylish clothing for the character of Angie.

Sound editor Kevin Brazier does stellar work with the sound to capture the sense of realism in the work places that is happening along with the world of suburban London. The music by George Fenton is decent for its low-key score though some of the orchestral flourishes tend to overplay some of the dramatic moments of the film.

The casting by Kahleen Crawford is brilliant for its use of non-actors as notable performances include Colin Coughlin and Maggie Russell as Angie’s parents, Frank Gilhooley as a foreman, Raymond Mearns as a co-worker of Angie, Davoud Rastgou as the Iranian immigrant seeking work, and Joe Sifflett as Angie’s young son. Leslaw Zurek is really good as the Polish immigrant Karol who helps Angie out with her project while Juliet Ellis is excellent as Angie’s cautious friend Rose who is the film’s conscience in some respect. Finally, there’s Kierston Wareing in a remarkable performance as Angie. A woman with a lot of ambition who is unaware of the dangers she would encounter while intent to create a better life for herself and gain back the son she’s been neglecting as Wareing is phenomenal despite the script’s shortcomings.

It’s a Free World… is a harrowing but underwhelming film from Ken Loach. Despite a marvelous performance from Kierston Wareing, it’s a film that has an interesting idea only to be bogged down by its commentary on immigration and the underworld that surrounds it. Plus, it’s a film that is really a disappointing follow-up to Loach’s 2006 masterpiece The Wind that Shakes the Barley. It’s a Free World… isn’t a waste of time but it’s not one of the great films from the revered Ken Loach.

Ken Loach Films: (Cathy Come Home) - (Poor Cow) - Kes - (The Save the Children Fund Film) - (Family Life) - (The Price of Coal) - (Black Jack) - (The Gamekeeper) - (Looks and Smiles) - (Which Side Are You On?) - (Fatherland) - (Hidden Agenda) - (Riff-Raff) - (Raining Stones) - (Ladybird Ladybird) - (Land and Freedom) - (A Contemporary Case of Common Ownership) - (Carla’s Song) - (The Flickering Flame) - (McLibel (1)) - (My Name is Joe) - (Bread & Roses) - (The Navigator) - Sweet Sixteen - (Ae Fond Kiss…) - (Tickets) - (McLibel (2)) - The Wind that Shakes the Barley - Looking for Eric - (Route Irish) - (The Angel's Snare) - (The Spirit of '45) - Jimmy's Hall - (I, Daniel Blake)

© thevoid99 2011

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