Peter Mullan stars as Joseph, a man with no family and no valuable or healthy friends to help him fight against his inner demons. On the contrary, they contribute to his downward slowping spiral in a more subtle manner. But the world is the world, and it shall stay like that. The only options we have are either to stay strong, or to fall, like the song "Sing All Our Cares Away" by Damien Dempsey says.
His counterpart is Hannah, a Christian owner of a charity shop. This is not a religious film. Rather, one of the topics present is how people stick to their believes and fight against any possible source that questions them. It also touches briefly how we are experts at judging the entire lives of people that we have never known with very little evidence. Truth is, we do not know anything about anybody. We do not even ourselves perfectly. We are a puzzle that we do not understand. That is why we need others, but most importantly, God.
Paddy Considine directs a short array of characters in an extremely depressing film. The film is honest and very real, so those looking for an idealized story proceed with caution or stay away. Nevertheless, a proper emotional balance is created halfway through after the sequence of events have punished audiences enough, with a soothing scene that represents one of the few moments of joy in the film:
Michael's out of work
Feels he's sinking in the murk
He's unshaven and a mess
Finds it hard some days to dress
Stevie smashed the delf
Cos he can't express himself
He's consumed by rage
Like his father at his age
Rita's little child
Has a lovely little smile
But this means nothing to her father
Because he's never even seen her
Sing all our cares away
To fight another day
Yeah, we sing
Sing all our cares away
Yeah, we'll live
To love another day
We grow strong from it all
We grow strong
Or we fall
We grow strong!
I saw this out of interest having heard that it was Paddy Considine's writing/directing debut, and having seen that it had received decent reviews.
Then when the opening credits rolled and I saw Peter Mullan was in it, I knew I was in for a treat.
How neither Mullan nor his equally amazing co-star Olivia Colman didn't receive Oscar nods, let alone wins, is beyond me. The same goes for Considine whose activities I'll be watching intently now in the hope of another stellar effort like this.
I'd love to recommend it to anyone, but it's pretty brutal, and whilst redemptive, is still bleak at times, and is most certainly not for animal lovers (well I'm an animal lover, but if violence against animals on screen isn't something you can watch, steer clear... it's incidental and instrumental, not gratuitous, but it's there).