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From May 2001
Film Review

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Bread and Roses
4 Stars- Recommended

Party-pooping big stylee

Loach in La-La Land

STARS: Adrien Brody, Pilar Padilla, Elpidia Carrillo, Jack McGee
DIRECTOR: Ken Loach
SCREENPLAY:
Paul Laverty
CERTIFICATE: 15
DISTRIBUTOR and Image copyright:
Film Four
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 50mins
OPENING DATE (UK): April 27

A powerful black-and-white treatise, Bread and Roses sees Ken Loach take on the City of Angels in his first US-set effort. And those familiar with his earlier pro-Socialist films can probably guess that when Ken comes to LA, shots of Rodeo Drive and Sunset Boulevard will be low on the list.

Written, as was Carla's Song and My Name is Joe, by Paul Laverty, Bread and Roses centres around the true-life janitor's strike which hit the city a few years back. Adrien Brody plays union organizer Sam, a man who spends his time rallying the troops to protest against the lack of holiday pay and benefits that these workers must endure. He meets illegal alien Maya (Padilla), who is working as a cleaner in a high-rise office block with her sister Rosa (Carrillo), and a touching relationship begins, complicated by the fact that Maya's co-worker Ruben (Alonso Chavez) has feelings for her also.

Written with brutal honesty, Bread and Roses aims its sights at a number of familiar (and worthy) targets. Corrupt government, big business, immigration law, union fat cats, bureaucracy and the American health care and education systems all get a slap in the face. Loach, of course, is armed to the teeth, and itching to pull the trigger, albeit with a grim smile on his face. While the scale of the film can barely cope with the wealth of ideas running through it, Loach and Laverty put such heart and soul into the story that you can't help but forgive its lack of subtlety. Scenes, particularly between the two sisters, come at you like a punch in the stomach, with Loach eliciting some magnificent performances from his actors.

Even employing the talents of Tim Roth and Ron Pearlman as themselves, in one scene when Brody et al picket a Hollywood party, Loach shoots throughout with an urgency, whipping the workers up to fever pitch. Heavy-handed it may be, but Bread and Roses has something to say, and has no wish to go about saying it quietly.

James Mottram

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Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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FILM OF THE MONTH:
5 Stars; Excellent
Bridget Jones's Diary • released April 13

FULL DETAILS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THESE AND MORE IN THIS ISSUE

5 Stars; Excellent
AIMÉE & JAGUAR
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT

4 Stars; Recommended
THE CONTENDER
GIRLFIGHT
A ONE AND A TWO (YI YI)
UNDER THE SAND