Riff-Raff (1991)

Riff-Raff (1991)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Riff-Raff Photos

Movie Info

Socialist-leaning British director Ken Loach kicked off a decade's worth of acclaimed cinema with this surprisingly comic tale of working class laborers at a North London building site, written by Bill Jesse, a real-life construction worker who died before the film's release. Scottish ex-con Stevie (Robert Carlyle) finds work on a non-union crew converting a hospital into luxury condos. Like most of his coworkers, Stevie is homeless and finds a place to live by squatting in an abandoned building. The crew is exploited by its supervisors and endures unsafe conditions, and pay is so low that the men use false names so that they won't have to pay taxes. Stevie discovers a lost handbag, and when he returns it to the owner, a spacey hopeful singer named Susan (Emer McCourt), he falls in love. He and Susan are soon living together -- then Stevie discovers that his girlfriend is a habitual drug user. Meanwhile, the most outspoken worker, Larry (Ricky Tomlinson) loses his job when he questions authority once too often. Loach cast only actors who had construction experience in the film, kicking off the career of Carlyle, who later surged to stardom in The Full Monty (1997).
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Parallax Pictures


David Finch
as Kevin
Ade Sapara
as Fiaman
Derek Young
as Desmonde
Bill Moores
as Smurph
Luke Kelly
as Ken Jones
Tracy Brabin
as Singer
Willie Ross
as Gus Siddon
Dean Perry
as Wilf
Terry Duggan
as Boss in office
Debra Gillett
as Singer
Brian Coyle
as Youth
Jimmy Jewel
as Pub Band
James MacDonald
as Funeral Director
Angela Morant
as Estate Agent
Terry Bird
as Van Driver
Jimmy Batten
as Man Buying Kango
Steve Imsay
as Friend of Man Buying Kango
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Riff-Raff

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

Laced with humor, this is a humanistic tribute to the survival with dignity of the British working class

Full Review… | December 2, 2010

Compelling proletarian social consience urban drama set in London.

Full Review… | September 11, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Quote not available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

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June 30, 2008

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June 25, 2005

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November 18, 2004
Reeling Reviews

Audience Reviews for Riff-Raff


Riff-Raff is a social commentary about unsafe working conditions that effectively shows how it affects the workers and how far they will go to combat it.

Duncan Kryszyn
Duncan Kryszyn

I love Ken Loach (Kes is the best, you simply must watch it so that it will crush your heart in its talons), and I love the premise and philosophy underpinning this movie (how many movies sympathetic to labor came out in the 90s? like none? neoliberalism had its bloody claws in deep by then in both Britain and the US), but there is just something about this movie that makes me yawn myself to death. I like the characters, I like the look, I like the writing, but I've gone back to it maybe a half-dozen times and I just can't watch more than a bit without shutting it off, even when I've picked up where I left off. It's probably because no plot materializes in the first half hour or so, I dunno. Sorry, Ken, it's me, not you :(

Alex Hiatt
Alex Hiatt

Not the true life story of a character from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Riff-Raff is another worthy addition to the Ken Loach series of working class folks oozing with real dramatics.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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