Bread And Roses

Bread And Roses


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What appears to be the most political film from Ken Loach since Ladybird Ladybird is also his first in North America.

Maya is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, staying with her sister, Rosa (Elpidia Carrillo), in Los Angeles. Rosa's American husband has diabetes and sits around the house. They have two children. Money is tight.

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Rosa finds Maya a job as a cleaner in a downtown office block where she works. Sam, a college student activist, tries to interest the janitors into joining a union. Mostly, they are afraid, convinced that their boss will sack them if he finds out and hire another crew from the legion of unemployed migrants prepared to accept minimal wages without benefits.

Paul Laverty's script has labels tagged to issues as if the exploitation of human resources takes preference over plot. Rosa can't afford to lose the money from her job to join a demo. She has been through too much already to throw it all away on a principal that no one in authority will recognise.

Maya is attracted to Sam, while going not-quite-steady with a serious-minded Central American cleaner, who is saving up for law school (another issue for Laverty). Despite a feeling that the characters are being manipulated to suit a socialist agenda, the performances have a life of their own. Pilar Padilla, as Maya, in her first movie, is so committed she rides her role like a fledgling bronco-buster.

Adrien Brody is one of a new breed of actors, who are less interested in stardom than the integity of their work. Sam is a mouthpiece, disguised in the body of a clown. Brody gives him an edgy irresponsibility that suggests there's more to life than slogans and flags.

Loach may be in LA, but you wouldn't know it, except for the soaring glass buildings and harsh white light. His world remains the same as it always was, among the dispossessed.

Reviewed on: 27 Apr 2001
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Bread And Roses packshot
Exploitation of Mexican immigrant labour among office cleaners in Los Angeles.
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Director: Ken Loach

Writer: Paul Laverty

Starring: Pilar Padilla, Adrien Brody, Elpidia Carrillo, Jack McGee, Monica Rivas

Year: 2000

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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