Peter Mullan + council estate = it’s bloody grim. This is in the tradition of realist British cinema but I wonder if there’s a tendency to try and make the slice of working class life even grimmer than the last one we’ve seen. To be fair the writer-director Paddy Considine balances the portrayal of class by ensuring that Hannah (Olivia Colman) is abused on a posh estate, but I can’t help feeling I’ve seen enough of grim representations of ordinary people’s lives.
It is part of the excellence of the film, performance and script, that Mullan’s Joseph can be introduced kicking his dog to death and become likeable. These characters, even Eddie Marsan’s ‘respectable-but-scumbag’ James, are all human; there is no caricature. Best of all is Colman, who’s churchy-charity shop character is devastatingly portrayed. Without spoiling: I thought the climax contrived and unnecessary to the drama.
I look forward to a realist film about working class life that isn’t grim. Made in Dagenham showed how class solidarity can take on the ruling classes. That was set, however, in the 1960s and it could be that Thatcher’s legacy was to destroy working class cohesion. If so, then battered and disturbed characters may be all we have left.