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Riff-Raff

Riff-Raff

Riff-Raff

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1991 / 95min / 35mm

DIRECTOR: KEN LOACH

CAST: ROBERT CARLYLE, EMER MCCOURT, RICKY TOMLINSON

Loach’s film, in addition to being a star-making vehicle for the young Robert Carlyle, is one of the truest intimate portraits of just getting by among the British (barely-) working-class after a decade-plus of Conservative rule. Carlyle’s Glaswegian construction worker is on a job creating luxury apartments in a run-down hospital building, while sharing a squat with his girlfriend, an aspiring pop singer from Belfast (Emer McCourt). What passes between them is tender yet wholly unsentimental, while the movie itself is often side-splittingly funny, with a script by ex-laborer Bill Jesse (and ample ensemble improvisation) capturing the grim humor that helps the workers survive in a demeaning system. Rarely revived since 1991, this original release print, it should be noted, features English subtitles for not-at-all-difficult-to-understand spoken English, and the appearance of this print is an occasion to present it.

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