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Ken's Glasgow becomes L.A.
on 2 October 2012
You have to admire good, worthy Ken Loach. Always admirable in motive and honest depiction, he is Britain's true indie maverick.
However, when he moved this production and story to L.A., even I felt a bit cheated and I'm sure a few lost allegiance for the director. But, just because it (at least at first) seems to lacks the kaleidoscope of colourful characters that we can identify with when he's shooting on home soil, it's about the people and in this case, Mexican workers employed illegally by a large non-union contractor as office cleaners.
I've heard of Americans requiring subtitles in order to decipher a thick Glaswegian accent and here we experience lots of subtitles, as much of the dialogue, from a largely amateur cast, is in Spanish. We, who're used to such soon get used to this but it's all a slight barrier and uphill struggle before we feel submersed into the story.
The story itself won't be recited around campfires for years to come and the dialogue is more of your typical bitty everyday conversation than the lovingly crafted screenplays that win awards. The filming, often in similar looking corridors and offices hardly allows for creativity either, but as Mr Loach is the nearest we have to the simplistic approach to the Scandinavian 'Dogme' movement, this comes as no surprise.
A charismatic Adrien Brody drops his Oscar winning stature to play a 'Justice For Janitors' unionist and at first we see him hiding around workplaces where he is definitely not welcome. He soon gets on the case of two young women, recently taken on as cleaners but have families to support.
Like more locally grown Loach's, there's lots of often grating arguing, raised voices, splashes of humour plus that all-important social message. We, or at least I, perhaps wrongly, however, cannot quite warm to the campaign as much as I do with a British Ken Loach film and like the characters themselves, feel somewhat alienated from both them and their plight.
So, far from Ken's best but still not bad.