It's a Free World... (2007)
With a central trope that recalls Jerzy Skolimowski's Moonlighting (1982), Palme d'Or winner Ken Loach's ironically titled social-consciousness drama It's a Free World... dissects the problem of exploited immigrant labor from the perspective of one taking advantage. Actress Kierston Wareing stars as Angie, a native of London's East End who works for a shady and sketchy employment agency that predominantly hires illegal Eastern European immigrants. Unceremoniously fired from that outfit, she cooks up the scheme of establishing her own such agency with the help of a roommate, Rose (Juliet Ellis); Angie begins scouting the local factories to recruit cheap labor, while Rose puts up a website and mission statement to give the operation a distinct veneer of class and idealism. As Angie flaunts her body and unabashedly uses the lure of sex to attract new clients and business, she ignorantly fails to acknowledge warnings that she may be headed for dangerous waters. Meanwhile, family problems erupt when Angie's extremely dysfunctional and misguided 11-year-old son, Jamie (Joe Siffleet), gets in trouble for severely beating a classmate, and Angie's unionist father grows utterly horrified when he learns of his daughter's activities. … More
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Critic Reviews for It's a Free World...
I emerged from this story feeling sadder and wiser but was never fully engaged.
Newcomer Wareing delivers an award-worthy performance as the steely Angie, who is impossible to hate even as she descends deeper into the moral abyss.
The film's bleak but powerful ending is a wake-up call to Britain and a measure of the pessimism of Loach, one of its most trenchant critics. I fear things must be really bad over there.
Free World doesnâ(TM)t need to manufacture tension; its critique of corruption by association is compelling enough.
It's a free world, Ken Loach asserts in his latest film with well-practiced disgust and unfortunately little hope.
Despite the timely and topical subject matter, this one just sits there and lays an egg that never poaches.
Loach is offering commentary, not solutions, so this one could be the feel-bad film of the week. In the best way, of course.
Even if it collapses in on itself a bit, there's still a rough power underneath everything that makes it worth a look.
Realistically filmed, but limited by narrative cuts that hopscotch through time, "It's a Free World" is a flawed film that overflows with ideas. You should never pass up a Ken Loach movie, and this is no exception to the rule.
Ken Loach's latest deserves plaudits for taking on the issue of immigration from such an unexpected angle.
Works on every level -- the performances are compelling, the drama feels grounded and real, and we brush up against an issue so large and overwhelming that you can easily see why no one thinks it's their problem to solve.
Wareing stands out among the slate of typically Loachian/genuine performances, managing to be both unlikable and empathetic at the same time.
Audience Reviews for It's a Free World...
A good concept doesn't quite work here. I never was taken with the film or the individual performances. Try again.More
Loach has done it again. The social realism card that he has exploited so well during his career is used to full effect here : his commentary on the issue of immigration is clearly not a 'solution', but rather representation of an issue so vast and exhaustive that, well, you can easily see why no one thinks it's their problem to solve.
As so, as our Angie descends deeper into the moral abyss to overcome her own missteps, the tension escalates (mildly). And yet, for a film about illegal immigration, the menace of getting caught is only viewed from afar. Loach is able to convincingly paint a whole world that exists almost solely outside the boundaries of the law-- the legal system has no major dispute with them. The bad news will rather arrive when a gang of payless, desperate employees will begin to apply some pressure on Angie. Violence becomes part of the game. As if it wasn't bad enough, there is also, on a personal level, an eleven-year old child that Angie's parents appear to be raising for her.
It's all written in grey spots, colliding with other issues from time to time (yet without fully exploring them, like single motherhood), and in the end, it doesn't feel hopeful at all. Lower-class England is depicted as a constant survival of the fittest; it's a bit of a shame his last third, feeling relevant but meant to be climactic, feels a bit off-track, but the messages pass nonetheless.
An inevitable bleak ending also waters down the momentum, and the numerous narrative cuts that give the impression the film would have benefited from another solid ten minutes-- but those are minor complaints. Whatever flaws there might be in the structure are largely compensated by the performances, and Kierston Wareing's fearless take on Angie is about as eye-opening as anything I've ever seen in a cinema in my life. Not that her performance transcends history, but being in litterally every scene, she constantly holds our attention with a presence both reassuring and vulnerable at the same time. I don't know how she manages that, but her character's duality is fully explored, with often compelling results.
It's all very, very good, in the end. It's not a major work of art, but as a portrait of troubled times, It's a Free World highlights the fact,even with its title, that there might not be that much freedom left for everyone in our little world...
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