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It is ironic that in the week that the most controversial British Prime Minister of the 20th Century villified by the left that I visited this rare Kenneth Loach film from the early 1980s shot in Sheffield, Northern England. The subjects involved include youth unemployment, the Irish troubles and poverty all elements that are included in any sensible discussion on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.
The film is shot in black and white which adds to the sense of gloom.
The locations are from my childhood which adds a degree of sentimentality to proceedings but the subject matters are gloomy as they are meant to be and Channel 4 level social politics isn't my forte despite the Sheffield Wednesday vandalism.
A young 'Archie' from Emmerdale and that bird off Children's Ward 'Mags' make appearances!
For me a lesson in why not to follow the left wing sheep.
The film certainly has a feel for its characters, and place, helped by a sharply dramatic use of b&w lensing which fits the milieu and theme.
[font=Century Gothic]In "Looks and Smiles," Mick(Graham Green) is unemployed and looking for a job as a mechanic which is his first love while hanging out and dodging the police with his friend, Alan(Tony Pitts). Alan who is on the other side of 18 from Mick enlists in the army which Mick's parents(Phil Askham & Pam Darrell) refuse to consent for him. One night at a disco, Mick meets Karen(Carolyn Nicholson), a young woman who works at a shoe store, but before they can make plans, Mick comes to his friend's defense, resulting in their ejection...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Directed by Ken Loach with his usual flair for naturalism, and as much Karen's story as it is Mick's, "Looks and Smiles" is a sobering look at the youth at the time the film was made in 1981. This generation does not have the same opportunities their parents did and have very little to look forward to. And even the adults are feeling the pinch. About the only option with any promise is the military but with that they have the daunting prospect of being sent to Northern Ireland like Alan does.[/font]