Funny Cow

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Funny Cow
"The film is in danger of resembling a caricature of working class life, circa 1960" | Photo: Gizmo Films

Out of despair comes hope. Out of tragedy comes comedy. Out of...

You could write this stuff until the cows start laughing. Contradiction does not a philosophy make. That's another one for The Bollocks Hall of Fame.

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Funny Cow is a Yorkshire lass growing up where Saturday Night And Sunday Morning left off. When the family pick up an old bath they dump it in the backyard, fill it with water from the kitchen tap and let the little 'un splash about watched by the other kids in the street.

Adrian Shergold's film, from a script by multi-tasker Tony Pitts, follows the girl's journey from a violent childhood to an abusive marriage to an attempt at becoming a stand-up comic in the rough Northern clubs (pubs with a mic) where old timers, such as Lenny (memorable performance from Alun Armstrong) commit verbal suicide with stale jokes in drunken venues where women are considered only worth booking if they take their tops off or sing like Shirley Bassey.

Add to this depressing scenario an alcoholic mother who lives alone after her husband died of anger, spending what remains of her welfare handouts on booze. Funny Cow survives a father who belted her black and blue and a husband (writer Pitts) who knocks her about on a regular basis and a lover (Paddy Considine) who owns the local bookshop and is as sexually fulfilling as a damp hanky to finally taking on the shouty pissed hecklers at the club by using language that would strip paint, which, naturally, they applaud.

The film is in danger of resembling a caricature of working class life, circa 1960. It could have been the story of any girl, any boy, who breaks free from the psychological damage of poverty and violence, except Funny Cow stays in situ and makes it on home territory where "unstable bitches aren't tolerated in the pack."

Let's not forget - and this is more important than you might imagine - she is played by Maxine Peake who has a reputation of honesty in everything she does. She carries truth as her talisman. She's the rough edge, the real deal.

Reviewed on: 19 Apr 2018
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A woman tries to make it as a stand-up in the Northern clubs at a time when sexism and alcohol and bad jokes prevailed.

Director: Adrian Shergold

Writer: Tony Pitts

Starring: Maxine Peake, Paddy Considine, Stephen Graham, Alun Armstrong, Tony Pitts, Lindsey Coulson, Mary Shackleton, Diane Morgan, Hebe Beardsall, Christine Bottomley

Year: 2017

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

London 2017

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