Monday, March 16, 2009

Class Four - March 16: Bread and Roses

I found a great description of the film at
A fine piece of polemical cinema, Ken Loach's Bread and Roses tells the story of the successful "Justice for Janitors" campaign, which helped establish improved pay and working conditions for the largely Latin American unskilled workforce in Los Angeles. Pilar Padilla plays Maya, who, following a traumatic crossing of the Mexican border, manages to find her older sister Rosa and eventually find work as a janitor. There, she runs into labour organiser Sam (Adrien Brody) when he evades security guards in a comical, Keystone cop-chase through an office building. He persuades her to join his campaign and a tentative romance blossoms.

Bread and Roses is a "Hollywood" movie with a difference, filmed in and around corporate LA but homing in on the lives of the ignored army of grotesquely underpaid, often illegal immigrants who give the area its sheen. At times, the semi-documentary footage of meetings and demos slackens the dramatic pace and it's interesting that the film's strongest scene is when the sceptical Rosa cuts through her sister's pro-union spiel with a devastating speech about the realities of her own life (she had to work as a prostitute). While this an imperfect movie, its political point hits home hard. Brody as Sam in particular brings a streak of fun to the movie.

David Edelstein has written a really interesting piece about the film at

Political Film Society reviews the film here.

Britfilms reviews it here.

Atlanta Journal Constitution reviews it here.

There's a great interview with director Ken Loach here.

There's another one here which, although primarily about his Irish Civil War film, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, references Bread and Roses. It's well worth your time.

What did you think of the film?

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