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Home: Dubai Film Festival 2007: Day 3: It's a free world

Ken Loach is one of a handful of truly British directors; those who set their films in Britain, using British actors and dealing with British situations. His ‘It’s a free world’ is no exception. Based on a very contemporary problem – the effect on the labour market caused by the onslaught of East European immigrants looking for work in present day England – he uses his usual combination of hard hitting subject matter and a cast of mostly unknowns to very good effect.

In the film ‘Angie and Rose’s recruitment’ is a company formed as a product of two disgruntled job seekers anxiety and frustration. Angie is the brains behind the concept, following her dismissal from her latest work assignment. Unwilling to be at the receiving end of any company’s injustices, she decides to set up her own agency to provide unskilled labourers to factories and industries. We gradually find out that good intentions aren’t free from blemish when Angie sets upon newer and progressively more ingenious methods to extract the highest margins out of her entrepreneurial endevour. Her employees work in shifts at factories, so a set of four workers share the same room in quick sessions, one after the other. She refuses to pay her workers when the cheques her company receives from its customers bounces at the bank, but decides to keep her share anyway. Her exploitation of these workers isn’t just monetary, but in one suggestive segment, sometimes physical as well. Angie, as played by Kierston Wareing, is one tough, sassy, opportunistic female. Capitalism, the film seems to say, despite its advantageous, favours the self centered and more often than not, gives rise to greed.

As a director Loach has never been very cinematic, in fact if anything, his methods are at best frugal. He uses the bare minimum of exposition and completely eschews the use of cinematic tricks, but in doing so his films, like last years excellent ‘The wind that shakes the barley’ or the very well made ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ before that, have a strong focus on the narrative that drives the film forward with a vivid immediacy. Part of this may also be the result of his continued collaboration with long time screenwriting partner, Paul Laverty, who again fuses his script with an activist’s zeal for demanding change and calling attention to the issues faced by their country. - by Faizan Rashid [Rated 4 out of 5]

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