Affectionate but Edgy, Period Drama, 2 October 2010
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
Viewed in 2010 this is a difficult call. It’s status as being a slice of cinematic social history is undoubted, as is the fine performance of Albert Finney. However as a stand-alone piece, the impact and power that it had at the time has dissipated with age.
The mechanics are very simple. A bleak drab setting, Finney as angry young man, Arthur, conventional love interest in Shirley-Ann Field as Doreen, and illicit love interest in married Rachel Roberts as Brenda who falls pregnant by Arthur.
The social commentary is finely observed by Director Karel Reisz and writer Alan Sillitoe. Reisz’s subsequent stage work with Pinter plays and his realisation of “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” both showcase his ability to deal successfully with character which is much in evidence here. Several supporting roles are vital to the story’s success with the bruising matriarchs of the time joyously in evidence.
At the time a story which told of marital infidelity, abortion and changing attitudes to sex, anticipating the teenage rebellion that was to surface as the decade wore on, broke the shackles of cinema which was still wedded to the conventional morality of the “War Spirit”. Now it seems staple dramatic fare. At 90 minutes it does it’s job well. Yet it lacks the raw spirit of “Kess”, the pain of “Brassed Off” or the dramatic sweep of the earlier “How Green Was My Valley” in its depiction of British Working Class life.
So ultimately an important slice of cinematic history, but by no means a timeless classic