Bread And Roses (2000)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  

/////, 2000.  , , , , , , , , , , , .  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by

Ken Loach takes his powerful investigations of the plight of the striving classes to Los Angeles, where an undocumented Mexican woman has made her way to live with her sister to look for work.  Getting a job as a janitor at her sister Rosa’s building, Maya () has to deal with her unkind boss () and suffer the same indignities as her colleagues until a charismatic activist () shows up with a dangerous proposition.  A number of buildings in the city are staffed by unionized workers and he wants theirs to become one of them, something that the management do their best to quash, inspiring an increasing solidarity amongst the employees that eventually leads to extreme measures and the devastating consequences that follow.  As is often the case with Loach and his dedicated screenwriter Paul Laverty, the film is a hard-hitting look at the world’s injustices within the narrative of a fairy tale, which in this case has a hard-time finding its balance thanks to fewer scenes of harsh reality (like ‘s entire excellent performance as Rosa, culminating in an unforgettable scene of confession) than there are far-fetched sequences of success (like Maya’s escape from greedy coyotes at the beginning).  Loach couldn’t make a boring film if he wanted to, so even if this one plays like a less intelligent El Norte or Norma Rae, it’s still compelling to watch, and Brody’s charisma is always a wonderful presence on screen.

Cannes Film Festival:  In Competition

Toronto International Film Festival:  2000

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