REVIEW: Loach's "Bread and Roses"
Patrick Z. McGavin
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Patrick Z. McGavin reviewed “Bread and Roses” for indieWIRE during the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. The film is currently in limited release.]
Ever since his groundbreaking 1960s BBC documentaries, the left-wing English filmmaker Ken Loach has specialized in making concrete and visible the marginalized and disenfranchised. Loach’s movies have always functioned as hard social critiques, angry denunciations of the severe political, class and social stratification marking contemporary life.
But the paradox of Loach’s movies has been the underlying ebullience, wit, self-reflexive humor and depth of feeling that pervades his work. This is not a dour, inner-driven, self-important filmmaker. The soccer match in the 1971 “Kes,” the hilarious interplay among construction workers in the 1991 “Riff-Raff,” underline Loach’s adroit skill at finding a recognizably human and emotional balance to the ideological imperatives that ground his work. So what is particularly disappointing about “Bread and Roses,” Loach’s new Cannes competition work, the first of his movies to be shot in America, is the virtual absence of the qualities and characteristics that make Loach such an essential director.
Though it traffics in a number of vitally important themes and subjects, the movie feels both desperate and na