Bread and Roses
dir Ken Loach • scr Paul Laverty
with Pilar Padilla, Adrien Brody, Elpidia Carrillo, Alfonso Chavez, George Lopez, Jack McGee, Maria Orellana, Beverly Reynolds, Robert Stahoviak, Sam West, Ron Perlman, Benicio Del Toro
release UK 27.Apr.01; US 11.May.01
FilmFour 00/UK 1h50 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Loach's films are always fairly pro-socialist, but this one goes a bit over the top with its "workers unite!" message. Even so, there's a wonderful personal drama at the film's heart that makes it worth seeing. Maya (Padilla) is an illegal alien in Los Angeles, working with her sister Rosa (Carrillo) as a cleaner in a high-rise office block. Then she meets union organiser Sam (Brody), who rallies the troops to protest the low pay and lack of any holiday pay or benefits for the workers.

Shot with a real sense of authenticity and urgency, the film looks terrific and the actors all deliver amazingly honest, open performances. We can see their passion for the issues involved, especially as Maya and Rosa clash over their opinions ... and as Maya discovers some difficult truths about their past. There's also a very nice romantic triangle in here, with Maya attracted to Sam, while her coworker Ruben (Chavez), with aspirations of becoming a lawyer, woos her. These storylines are superb, but you get the point Loach is really interested in the politics, and in this area he comes out with all guns blazing, attacking all the traditional targets: corrupt government, big business, immigration law, union fat cats, bureaucracy and of course the American health care and education systems. Viva la revolución! It's not that any of this is poorly aimed (on the contrary!), but it's all far too heavy-handed for one little film.

[15--themes, language] 7.Nov.00 sliff

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