Ken Loach directs Carol White, Terrence Stamp and John Bindon in this British Kitchen Sink drama that follows a young woman’s shifts in fortunes as she shacks up with London career criminals.
Based on Nell Dunn’s novel this is a rarity: a feminist, socialist gangster film. Carol White gives a warm and complex lead performance as the blonde we’d usually see voiceless sitting in a booth tarted up with a Face’s arm around her. We see her financial struggles and the pull between her heart and sexual needs. Loach is careful to avoid judgment even though a lot of her harder choices generate scenes that put this comfortably in the saucy / seedy milieu. He’s not making exploitation just following a young woman who is at least articulate about her desires in the darker side of Swinging London. It makes for quite the beguiling character study. Her more brutish husband is played by John Bindon a real life gangster who also appears in Get Carter and Barry Lyndon. I’m not saying he was the best actor in the gaff but he brings an authenticity and cockiness that shows up the more studied improvising of sensitive thief Terrence Stamp. There are a lot of bleak and frank moments here and you’d struggle to say Loach finds much hope in the stalemate conclusion. Yet it feels like a lighter, less didactic exploration of urban life that a lot of his left wing canon. Really liked this one.
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