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Le Salon des Internautes
home of the perpetually doubtful and those that are sure of their ground
Wildlife, freedom, free world 
13th-Jan-2008 01:44 pm [pop-corn/choc-ice/tv dinner]
On Friday evening I saw Ken Loach's It's a Free World and yesterday I took my goddaughter to see a lovely French film called Le Renard et L' Enfant.

Apparently the two films couldn't be more different. One is about a harsh social reality, the other is rather a "fairy tale" about an unlikely friendship between a kid and a fox and a journey into the wild. One is almost a nightmare, the other is like a dream. Ken Loach didn't try to make an attractive movie with pretty pictures while Luc Jacquet made stunning pictures. The little girl is cute as a button, the foxes are incredible actors, the landscapes are beautiful.

To give you an idea of how pretty Le Renard et L'Enfant is, here is the trailer.

 I think that being a human being means that one can enjoy both movies, acknowledge Ken Loach's great and subtle work, watch it with adult eyes while marvelling at the wildlife and at the relationship between the kid and the fox. Yes I confess that I smiled a lot, and laughed, feared for the fox and almost cried in front of the screen.

Having said that, as a movie buff I must say that It's a Free World is a better film. I really recommend it. It's Ken Loach at his best.

It's about man's exploitation of man (or in this case woman's exploitation of man!) of course but it is not manichaean and it's also mostly about human vulnerability. 

Ken Loach  exposed a general situation, a system of exploitation through the storyline of a woman, Angie, who is the product of such system. And it does it compassionately. 

It's a Free World is a portrait of a lady who turns out to be not as likeable as we expected considering the beginning. Because for once, Loach chose a different perspective, following someone whose life has not been easy but who is determined, hard working and starts their own business to actually end up making a packet off poor people, mostly workers from Eastern countries and even illegal workers.

But despite everything she does, and as the viewer is invited to side with her father's moral standpoint, we cannot really hate Angie, we're left feeling kinda sorry for her too. 

While being a formerly-exploited exploiter, while being a bit greedy to say the truth, while being ready to do anything in regards to morality, she's vulnerable too, because there're much bigger fishes, people higher than her in the chain food, who could crush her any time, because she belongs to the weaker gender in a men's world and because she's a mother. And it's precisely her vulnerability, the fact that she can be treated badly (beaten even) and is insecure in life that makes her become a ruthless buisness woman who will give herself all the means to have her share of the loot in this Free World.

Angie's success is sad and tastes like ashes.

Angie is not a bad person per se, she's just a human being who mirrors the society in which she lives, the individualistic generation she belongs to. She's a formated product, even physically. The actress is terrific showing that.

The ending is quite depressing, as if there were no hope at all in this world wherein the poor exploit the poorer.

Here's an insightful interview of Ken Loach, the writer and the lead.

Vermeer, woman in yellow
13th-Jan-2008 01:23 pm (UTC)
I heard that Der Fuchs und das Mädchen (as it's being called here) is just magical, and the trailer really has beautiful images. Land and Freedom is the only Ken Loach film I'm familar with but I quite liked that one, so I think I'll try to see both of these films.

Btw I saw Eastern Promises yesterday and liked it a lot. I found it better than A History of Violence though I'm not sure I can really pinpoint why. Viggo Mortenson is fascinating as Nikolai.
13th-Jan-2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
It is magical but not soppy. It's a fairy tale but it isn't Walt Disney either. There were two scenes that were a bit shocking even.

I also think that Eastern promises is better than A History of Violence, and also better than We own the night that was released at the same time before Christmas.
Le Salon des Internautes: home of the perpetually doubtful and those that are sure of their ground.