Film: It's A Free World 12 rating Year: 2007

Its a Free World
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Country: UK Genre: Drama

Director: Ken Loach

Starring: Kierston Wareing, Leslaw Zurek, Juliet Ellis

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Also see our Guide to Ken Loach, or visit our Ken Loach UK or Ken Loach US stores, or see our reviews of other Ken Loach films Kes, Looks And Smiles, My Name Is Joe, The Navigators, Poor Cow, Raining Stones, Riff Raff, Sweet Sixteen and The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

It's A Free World Synopsis - Its A Free World is set in present day London. The film commences as single mum Angie (Kierston Wareing) is let go by her employers, and sick of being messed around, she decides she must be her own boss in order that she wont be on the end of such poor decisions. Using her knowledge as a recruitment consultant, she sets up a small recruitment agency with her flat mate Rose (Juliet Ellis). Angie convinces Rose that the agency needs to establish itself before it goes properly legit (like paying tax etc). The agency concentrates on recruiting legitimate migrant workers to fulfil short term vacancies doing jobs that are difficult to recruit for - Building Labouresr, Factory Workers etc. As the agency starts to take off Angie gets busier and busier, she now looks like she will be able to make some good money to look after herself and her young son Jamie, but has little to spend with him. Jamie starts to get into trouble at school and her parents think that her job is both unethical and an unsuitable example for the young boy. Undaunted, Angie is determined to prove her parents wrong and to make a success of the agency. With money rolling in, things start to look good, and they have enough money to think about getting proper offices and to think about going fully legit and squaring up with the tax authorities. But when a big contract goes unpaid owing the agency £40k, Angie is unwilling to pay any of the owed money to the workers for the job that's she got them, and merely offers them more work. But when you work outside the law you cannot rely on the laws protection and the workers mean to get there money in full.

Review of It's A Free World - Ken Loach and his long time screen writing partner Paul Laverty, have come up with yet another superb film. After their previous film - the historical The Wind That Shakes The Barley did so well critically, it was perhaps unexpected that they should make such a totally uncommercial film as It's A Free World (not that Ken Loach ever makes films with commerciality at the forefront of his thinking). The films uncompromising uncommerciality probably explains why there was not attempt to give this a proper cinematic release - indeed its release journey has been pretty unique - premiered simultaneously in a handful of small cinemas at the start of September 2007, shown free on British television late in September 2007 and released on DVD on 1st October 2007. It was also probably a response by Ken Loach to the difficulty he has had in the past getting his films into British cinemas. His decision was right in any case, It's A Small World works within the medium of television, just like Cathy Come Home did, due to its storyline that is absolutely of our times. Obviously due to the changing nature of television viewing it was never going to make as bigger impact as Cathy Come home but alongside Nick Broomfield's superb 2006 drama documentary Ghosts, it certainly has shed a spotlight on the current way we chose to live, and the price that gets paid. Ken Loach's timing is impeccable, and as so many times before, his ability to hold a mirror up to modern society and show the reality of the times is a rare gift indeed.

Dramatically the film benefits from Loach's light touch, and the story is allowed to develop naturally without the need of artifice or plot twists to keep the viewer gripped by the story. This has to be one of the best cast Ken Loach films of recent times, again he has shied anyway from any "names" and as ever he has found an amazing new talent - in the shape of Kierston Wareing who, in her first real acting role, plays the lead role of Angie. Its not only a beautifully judged performance but is also played with absolute and sincere conviction.

The reasons I recommend Its A Free World are: 1. A contemporary tale of incredible importance and resonance 2. Stunning debut by newcomer Kierston Wareing 3. Another example of Ken Loach incisive and honest approach to telling stories (and film making).