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Customer Review

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very great film, 4 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Rita, Sue And Bob Too! [DVD] (DVD)
I first saw this film when I popped round to a friend's one day, when I was a student. This friend had a lodger, then a destitute teacher and now a famous prize-winning poet. He memorably described this wonderful piece as "Fantastic - a richly British piece of ethnicity". And so it is. It's set in my part of the world, and the grandeur of the tops, as we call the moors, and the sheen on the moorland grass, are strangely sombre and beautiful settings for the action which is anything but aesthetic. This is a no-holds-barred account of life in sink-trap estates and high-rises which makes "Shameless" look like feel-good slop, set in the land of Ted Hughes and the Brontes (Dunbar takes a side-swipe at the latter family of geniuses from which, for me, they have never recovered, and I sometimes feel as if I was brought up myself in that bloody parsonage). But art, as JG Farrell once remarked, is a painted mask to cover the sufferings of the poor.

The play was spot-on then and it's spot-on now. The best you can look forward to is a vigorous shag off a priapic estate-agent, before or after he does your best friend. As a song of the time said "What's love got to do with it?" Your job is working the phones for a minicab company, your homework's got the odds scribbled all over it by your brothers, and your father's a nowt who's nowt now and always was a nowt and never will be anything else but a nowt, which does not make him any the less superior (in his own booze-sodden mind) to your boyfriend, who is black.

The acting is so good I'm struggling to find words to describe it. Costigan puts in an especially disgusting and lubricious performance, even by his very high standards. I admire the way he repeatedly shows his a*** through the windscreen - in fact all the actors deserve a massive ovation for simply refusing to indulge in an iota of vanity and thespian narcissism. What a lovely change from today, with all the varnished celebs and micro-talented hugely buffed performers. The two girls should have been snapped up by the RSC - the ease and naturalism of their performances is a great pleasure.

I watched this the second time with a sour old Trot, who kept denouncing the film for what he deemed its sneering at working-class life and values. We know how wrong he was, don't we readers? Andrea Dunbar wrote it as she lived it, down to the last dreadfully bitter drop, and nothing and nobody could save her. A genius, and an aching loss. This is her greatest achievement.
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