Top positive review
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Another superb act of realism.
on 16 October 2007
The start of this film is typical Ken Loach. Real people living real life in a film so drenched in reality that it could have been filmed using hidden cameras in Glasgow.
Loach does something on screen that I've never seen any other director do. He manages to get performances so realistic that you feel compelled to stay tuned to see what happens - a bit like a soap opera, but good. You genuinely feel for the characters and believe that they exist - this is especially important for a Loach film as they tend to be politically charged - and the people involved HAVE to feel real in order for the politics to matter.
The first part of this film is set in Glasgow and shows how the Jack-the-lad bus driver George lets an exotic looking passenger (Carla) escape from his bus after she is shouted down by a ticket inspector. She snook onto the bus and has no ticket, George defends her and pays the 40p himself for her a ticket.
She later sees him and thanks him, she even gives him a present for his act of kindness. From that moment on George is intrigued by her and through his persistence they start to develop a friendship. George even `borrows' his bus for a romantic walk in the Scottish countryside.
Robert Carlisle is nothing short of fantastic in this film. His natural charisma helps carry the character of George, and he portrays all the frustration and anger the character has in a touching way.
Carla's suicide attempt, post-traumatic stress, and knowledge that she has a difficult past help George build a strong protective instinct for her. They become lovers and then the film takes a dramatic cinematic shift.
The rest of the film is based in Nicaragua where revolution is all around and Carla must face her demons. Here we see Carla come out of her shell as she begins to feel more comfortable about herself. We she an almost childlike innocence about her and sympathise about the unspoken horrific event which she is so rocked by. They search for her friend and former lover Antonio.
Oyanka Cabezas manages to put across the vulnerability and independence of the mysterious Carla in an equally touching way.
Whilst in Nicaragua they find Bradley - a former associate of Carla and a US worker over there. Bradley played by Alien's Scot Glen provides the mouthpiece for the political teachings of the film. His character is difficult to like initially, but you always feel that this is because he is embittered by people's lack of understanding of the appalling situation in Nicaragua. It is he who explains how the Americans have effectively sponsored the killings of innocent people. Glen acts well in the role, but he seems to stick out like a sore thumb when compared to the more naturalistic acting of the rest of the cast.
I'm not going to discuss the plot any further, but there are scenes with Robert Carlisle which glued me to the screen. His exchange of T-shirts at a bar in Nicaragua was such a powerful scene and couldn't help but make you love George even more.
The film doesn't feel as preachy as other reviews have made out - but it does certainly feel a bit all over the place at times. As if it's trying to cover more than it can in the time it has.
If it wasn't for the strength of Robert Carlisle's performance I'd have maybe given this three stars (as I can't give it 3.5), but because he was so enigmatic during the whole feature - I've given this a four.