A low budget, independent film, set in a fishing village in Great Britain. The story is powerful and moving. Bob Hoskins, Josiane Balasko (a fairly well known actress in France), and the young red head girl, Jessica Stewart; all deliver wonderful performances.
This is a somewhat difficult story to describe without giving away much of the discovery in this film. The film looks at tolerance, prejudice, innocence, love, loss, friendship, kindness, and cruelty. All these emotions are wrapped up in marvelous lead characters.
As each charcter is introduced, I had a strong feeling of really loving that character. In the opening montage, Jack played by Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Vista Series), in his younger days looked a little like Phil Collins), meets 4 teenagers sitting on the curb drinking and littering. He yells at them, one throws his beer can at Jack. Jack picks up the can and throws it in the trash. I immediately love Jack because he tells these kids to go do something worthwhile and stop littering. Florrie, (Jessica Stewart), is just the cutest sweetest innocent little girl. She tells Jack that he doesn't smell good; saying it without emotion or hate, just factually. I love her because she so purely says what she is thinking. Stepahnie, (Josiane Balasko), sees that Jack is not taking very good care of himself. She decides as a good neighbor to cook him a meal. An act of kindness with absolutely no need for reward, I immediately loved her. Ian sees Jack's pigeons for the first time, and sees some kind of connection with them; maybe it's because they fly away but always come back. He shows empathy for the birds. I cared so much for each of these characters.
Caring for these characters was reinforced by the people that surround them or take care of them. Ian has the most horrendous evil mother, and slacker friends. Florrie's mother leaves her at the drop of a hat with Jack while she goes off and does other things, maybe work, maybe do other things - all told it's irresponsible parenting. Jack's son can't forgive him for things in the past, and won't let him see his grandchildren. Stephanie is the only person that has a wonderful supportive daughter, but she is not a key peripheral character.
From the start I was hooked by these characters. The film is just a wonderful study of how people respond when faced with adversity, prejudice, and ignorance.
From a film standpoint, there is a lot to be desired. The film stock is very grainy. The film has an overall gray feel to it. There are more than just a few out of focus shots. Editing isn't always perfect. There are a few moments where the director chose to fade to black, without a solid connection to the story line. My guess, they didn't have the shots necessary to make a visible transition. The music is somewhat overbearing. There's a deep bass / drum line that appears when the story turns ominous, a fairly heavy handed technique. KT Tunstall's opening song is wonderful. The dialog isn't always crystal clear, not because of the British accent, but it wasn't recorded properly.
All that said, technically this film may not be good. The story and character development overpower all those technical deficiencies and make this an excellent film.
Please don't read this paragraph if you are going to watch this film. It does contain reference to some plot elements you might want to discover yourself. I present the following for a parent trying to decide who should watch this film, since it is unrated. I have a very hard time rating this film. There is no real violence - oh a few people get punched in a fight, but its not the same violence in a lot of films anymore. There is absolutely no nudity, or even suggestion of nudity. There is no sex in the film, there's a moment with Stephanie and Jack, but the camera cuts long before anything happens. There is a fair amount of drinking in the film, and that is also addressed carefully. (Now you've been warned, I've tried to write long enough to avert your eyes so you won't get the next part unless you want to know) The film has a lot of strong language, there's probably a good 50 f-bombs, but all said with that British accent, it's not as clear. There are a good dozen c-bombs, said very clearly. The tough part (you were warned OK) is the conversation about transsexuals and pedophiles. It is a major plot element, major major elements. Does that make this film an R rated movie? In Europe this film would probably get an all audiences rating. I think it is such an excellent film that certain mature young viewers could easily watch. In fact the film would generate a lot of discussion afterwards. The discussion would be about tolerance, and prejudice; not about those other two topics. So for a mature 13 or 14 year old, this film would possibly work. But parents you have to know your child well, and should watch it along with them. So end of any possible spoilers.
The DVD is a simple one. An awful preview of some horrible movie that should have never seen the light of day. And the movie. That's it. There is are a few moments of French with English subtitles. The translation is very good. There are a few moments where the French is not translated, but these are not key plot moments.
I loved this technically flawed film. I loved the chemistry between all these characters. The film was believable. You can feel Jack's pain in the loss of his wife. I could see Jack change as the film moved forward. I cared a lot about what happened to every one of these four characters. This film reminds me of another older movie, and I cannot put my finger on the title.