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on 29 June 2009
I saw this film in the cinema then decided to buy it to show my students who are learning English and studying Humanities. I find it thought provoking and so did my students. Students abroad all too often receive a picture of the UK as 'red buses or fish and chips' so this film helps to dispel some of those myths, as well as making the students think about what happens in their own countries with immigrant workers. I found the subtitles were essential because of the realism of the filming and dialogue. I would have liked to know for sure before purchase that subtitles were available - and in English, although, to be fair, they usually are.
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on 29 March 2012
For better or for worse, Ken Loach has always been one of British cinema's most socially conscious filmmakers. In 'It's a Free World...', Loach casts his eye on the employment of foreign workers (some legal, some otherwise) in present-day Britain. The film centers around an employment agency set up by Angie (a fantastic Kierston Waering) a young single mother unfairly sacked from her job finding work for Polish workers, and her friend Rose (Juliet Ellis), a University graduate tired of her dead-end job. They begin offering manual labour to unemployed emigrants, but, keen to increase their cash flow and keep their workforce from making demands upon them, Angie gets involved in the murky world of employing illegal immigrants. Rose becomes troubled by the risks, and gradually, things begin to falter around them. The tale is told with a sombre accuracy and commendable lack of schmalzy sentimentality by Loach (at least outside of a few incidents in the film's latter half), and Wareing, Ellis, and Leslaw Jurek - as Angie's romantic part-time boyfriend Karol - all put in superb displays.

Though the film as a whole is both unflinchingly truthful and raises important questions over identity, dignity, and the 'true' worth of money, there are a few missteps in the film. Loach lays the melodrama on rather thickly during the last half hour (though that's not to say this part of the film isn't moving), and the film does drag a little in places. Elsewhere, Loach fails to fill out a few reasonably promising characters, such as Angie's father; supportive, yet increasingly worried by her decision making. Still, this is a thought provoking, often gripping, and expertly acted work. Gone are the slightly bungled sentimentality and simplistic moral messages of some of Loach's earlier work, and this is to the credit of 'It's a Free World...'. If you're looking for a gritty and satisfying portrayal of the struggles and strife of Modern day Britain, and the way relationships and attitudes develop and change, I would highly recommend this film.
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on 14 January 2008
This is certainly one of Loach's better recent films. I wouldn't say it is brilliant, but there isn't anyone else out there making interesting, challenging and intelligent political films at the moment.

In terms of the script, the selection of the main character is really what turns the film from a boring also-ran into something quite clever. Angie is very much a modern woman - independent, perhaps not too academically smart but certain not stupid and prepared to work hard and ambitious for herself and her son - particularly given the Dad's utter uselessness. Very much one of Thatcher's children, her experience in the workplace is of people screwing her over - so the only way to get ahead is to do the same to others. To do this, she starts up an agency paying `starvation' wages to illegal immigrants. She justifies this to herself as doing them a favour - at least she is getting them employment.

It's a convincing, compelling performance, an accurate portrayal of a modern mindset - socially liberal, but politically only self-interested. It's done well that we both sympathise and revile Angie's behaviour. Without a character as carefully crafted as Angie - this film would be pretty dull and predictable. It certainly allows the film to rise considerably above the average.
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on 23 May 2015
It's a Free World Has an authenticity to it and IS A BELIEVABLE STORY. The acting performances are all very Good -especially the woman who plays the main lead role (she can really ACT). This story shows us that the Exploited are not ONLY the obvious people as there seems to be a chain reaction in that the Gang labour bosses have a hiararchy - they exploit each other usually with violence!

Ken Loach as he has done so superbly well before with such plays as Cathy Come Home, shows us that there is a Moral to this story - the lead characters ill thought out irresponsible money making scheme using immigrant labour while dodging the taxman. This is tempered with great acts of kindness that at times are childlike and yet wonderfully uplifting to watch !
The moral to this story seems to be THE DILEMA OF IT ALL - EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE A VICTIM HERE and if that isn't bad enough the main character doesn't seem to learn her lessons - she gets caught up in it all like a Hooker - It'll all be alright in the end except it never IS - A word that describes this film well is SURVIVAL - SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.

I can fully recommend this little film because it is Unbiased in the way that it treats everyone the same and it shows us THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY SIDES OF HUMAN NATURE OFTEN IT CONTRADICTS ITSELF - JUST AS REAL EVERYDAY LIFE DOES TO US !
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on 13 July 2014
This is a powerful eye opener of a film. Set in contemporary England, this film lays bare migrant worker situation in Britain from the angle of someone running a twilight employment agency. It powerfully lays out the background to the recent influx of migrant workers to Britain, and the quality of the writing, direction, and character portrayal will leave many speechless, and the film over all, will leave many viewers feeling challenged and needing to think.

People interested in this story may also be interested in Under the Same Moon [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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This is a film which should be viewed by all the Daily Mail readers who think that all this country's problems are caused by immigrants and Asylum seekers.

This film shows how the poor folks who enter this country are treated, how they are effectively treated as slaves on a "starvation wage". Exploiters think the exploited should be thankful for what they've got.

This is the true picture of the immigration situation in the UK. Immigrants don't sponge from this country - unscrupulous business men exploit them in the most demoralising ways. The film deals with this from an interesting angle; a woman who has been 'screwed over' in every job she is in. After being fired from an agency who entice foreign workers into the UK on the back of false promises of a regular wage, she decides to set up her own agency. Angie is a single mother, hard working, she wants the best for her son. But she too exploits the foreign workers and coins it in whilst they go for weeks without receiving a wage.

Things aren't black and white in this film - you empathise with Angie and are desperate for her to come up on top. But you also want her to get her comeuppance for adding to the problems of desperate people and treating them as her business assets rather than human beings. Things get ugly for her, but the violence and also compassion by those who seek vengeance adds to the fullness of this film.

I personally have always been a left-wing thinker and supported the plight of the foreigners who are mistreated, abused, and used as a hate vehicle by the media. This film will hopefully open the eyes of those who think that 'Johnny Foreigner' is coming over here and 'stealing our jobs', a massive tabloid fallacy. We should be disgusted by the conditions imposed on the forgotten workforce who are hidden and mistreated in order that we can buy cheap products at the super markets and clothes shops.

Angie's dad is the voice of reason in this film; he is disgusted by what his daughter is doing. It is her dad who uses the phrase "starvation wage" - Angie is in denial and convinces herself that she is doing good, even accusing him of being a rightwing National Front thinker when he is actually voicing his opinion from the left!

The realism of this film gives it an extra boost. The acting doesn't look like acting, it looks like real people in real situations. At points I was convinced that some of the roles aren't played by actors, but people in the actual role. Whether this is the case or not, Loach has managed to pull off another classic showing real life in a way the viewer can believe.

There - I managed to review a Ken Loach film without using the word "Gritty" once! Doh - I used typed it!!!
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on 20 January 2008
That film has to be seen all over the world. It shows how in our globalized world the migration of people is perfectly organized and managed outside all legality with the accomplice-ship and cooperation of most governments or national services in the western countries concerned by these migrations. Here London, England. The volunteers (!?!) are essentially coming from the European Community (Poland) but also non members states from eastern Europe (Ukraine) and some countries going through a crisis like Iran and Iraq. The human beings are cattle as soon as they put their first toe in the system. They pay heftily for their passage first, just like the Jewish community had to pay for the passage of the Jews who were deported to Auschwitz. Then they will be exploited at two levels. First by the skyrocketing rents they pay for one fourth of a room or one fifth of a caravan. Second they will get some work every morning for the day and with no certitude of anything: no contract, no health insurance, no guaranteed payment of the miserable salary, no guaranteed schooling for the children. Everything is done outside any official declaration, evading taxes and all controls. And no serious service is doing anything to find out and bring things back in line. But the worst part is, though some men are behind this kind of slave market, the main flesh-eating character is a white woman, a false blonde, divorced with an 11 year old son abandoned to her own parents. She has a black associate who will finally drop out when the other trespasses beyond the narrow line between exploitation and slavery on one side and cattle- or even garbage-processing on the other. One day she will call immigration authorities to report a clandestine camp in order to get it emptied for her load of slaves that is arriving on the following morning. The black woman will be replaced and the whole forced-labor merry-go-round will start again and amplify its operation. The only advantage of being exploited by a woman is that young males will have to perform some personal service to the female slave-manager to get work on the following day. A film to be seen urgently. I was divinely surprised by the causticity of Ken Loach I was considering as slightly tamed before seeing this film. He can still bite, the old pit-bull.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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on 9 January 2009
even though I dont live in the UK anymore, this movie reminded me of some experiences as a foreign low paid worker! Excellent actors, very close to reality. definitely in my top 10 now!
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on 29 July 2008
This is the second film I've seen recently tackling the hot topics of immigration and exploitation, the other being Lorna's Silence. It's a Free World is a familiar story of economic migrants from Eastern Europe and beyond travelling to the UK looking for peace and prosperity, or just to raise a family in a safe environment. However when they arrive they find themselves at the bottom of the social ladder, living in cramped and often unhygienic accommodation devoid of work or dignity.

The migrant characters were lightly drawn and only one had even a little colour sketched in - almost enough for us to care for him as a person, but not quite. The acting was average and the cinematography uninspiring.

The story of a single mother struggling to earn a living and raise her young son, she works for a London workforce company on whose behalf she travels to Poland to recruit teachers, nurses and engineers to become window cleaners and labourers. When she gets laid off she takes it personally and convinces her flatmate to start an agency with her. They make a go of it, building up a clientele of factories and building sites that will hire casual staff by the hour or day. Their ethical code is ignored at every turn as they exploit work hungry migrants who have to arrive each morning in the yard of a local pub to find out if they have a job that day. This theme was for me the most interesting element, as the girls, who themselves as young British women were struggling to find rewarding and stable careers, chipped away at their own ethics and justified their uncaring attitude towards the migrants by an `every woman for herself' attitude. A thought provoking social observation not unrelated to the themes within Lord of the Flies. This is not quite a descent into barbarism but shows the human instinct for self preservation has not been suppressed within modern civilisation.

I felt that the contemporary nature and honest treatment of the subject went a long way to justifying the Festival invitations and the awards but I'm not convinced that it stands up as a great piece of cinematography. It neither challenges our collective assumptions on this subject, nor presents any new insight.
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on 27 September 2007
There are few very truly English films in this country and I am glad to add one more to their list ( "Billy Elliot", "Dirty Pretty things", "Secrets and Lies" , "Remains of the Day", "Howard End" etc ).
"It's a free world" is a touching story about the fight for a "better" life. Being on the "other side" of the border some 10 years ago, I myself witnessed the way how the applicants' money was taken (in advance) by the corrupted agencies, promising rainbows and other miracles in this beautiful country. This country is beautiful and I love it. However the humans, living in this country carry the same human nature and it is far from perfect! Anjie, her dad, her son, her colleague, her Polish "interpreter" and even the social workers strive for "better" life.
For me the last scene of the film makes the film ! Please, watch it carefully!

Having been worked on the "immigration front" since 2004, I knew and still know so many foreigners who barely speak English and I always asked myself - how come these people come to the UK, if they do not SPEAK English and why they NEVER learn to speak English? I believe you will find the answer of this question whilst watching "It's a free world"
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