Can we talk? Everybody is pretty well agreed that Great Britain's Ken Loach is one of our most important filmmakers. On the basis of his work with actors alone--often actors who are unknown until showcased in his films--he commands a place in the modern Pantheon. The problem is that he sounds terminally "worthy"; his films invariably reflect a commitment to framing harsh sociopolitical realities and steeping us in the fight for justice, a square deal or a square meal. They sound, in short, as if they're "good for you"--whereas the fact is that they are almost always damned good, period.
My Name Is Joe makes for an excellent introduction to Loach country--partly because it's just a tad more immediate in its basic viewer appeal. Joe Kavanagh (Peter Mullan), out-of-work Glasgow housepainter, is a terrifically attractive fellow, and though he is also a recovering alcoholic, he seems eminently pulled-together and ready for yeoman service as a movie leading man. The main story line concerns his encounter with and growing attraction to a smart social worker (Louise Goodall). There is nothing star-crossed about their potential love, but each is tough enough to set limits till they've travelled over a distance of mutual ground. Meanwhile, Joe's status as role model among his more emotionally and economically precarious neighbours--an extended family of man--is good for a surprising number of lusty laughs and one fatal, criminal complication that could jeopardise his future. Peter Mullan won a well-deserved Best Actor award at Cannes in 1998, and subsequently directed a family comedy-drama of his own, Orphans. --Richard T. Jameson, Amazon.com
Another hard-hitting drama from Ken Loach. Recovering alcoholic Joe Kavanagh (Peter Mullan) is out of work, but spends his time coaching the local football team. When he goes to pick up team member Liam (David McKay), he meets social worker Sarah Downie (Louise Goodall). Although they clash at first, the pair are soon involved in a relationship. Joe learns from Sarah that Liam and his wife, Sabine (Annemarie Kennedy), owe money to local gangster McGowan (David Hayman). In an attempt to help Liam pay off his debt, Joe agrees to do three drugs runs for McGowan. However, his relationship with Sarah suffers when she finds out what he has done.