Where all was gloom and doom, there is a new spirit of positive optimism drifting into British kitchen sink film. These were the movies that made you want to find a tie and string yourself up from the nearest rafters, because it was grim everywhere, no matter what you did. Now, “FishTank” and “Harry Brown” buck the trend and bring more uplift that the proverbial bra.
Both films manage to find hope and even the possibility of redemption in a London gripped by poverty and despair. “FishTank” takes the desperate life of a desperate teenager in the Essex suburbs of London (and take my word for it, life does not get more bleak or purposeless than these suburbs). She wants to dance but is marked out as a troublemaker with no future. Even her friends don’t much like her. Mind you, it doesn’t take that much to make teenage girls the deadliest force alive. If they were in Iraq, this war would be over.
Although her mother is selfish, her sister is ghastly and the mother’s boyfriend is every stereotype known to feminist literature, the movie still has a positive message about escaping unpleasantness and making your own luck. It isn’t American, but it makes you want to cheer, despite the obligatory icky sex scene and the obligatory life becomes even worse when you are hurt scene.
Every girl who ever loved horses or even My Little Pony will cheer and cheer at the uplifting moral and message.
“Harry Brown” is different, but has the same spirit of optimism and redemption about it. Michael Caine plays the lead and has clearly seen my beloved Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino”. Not a lot of people know that! Well, if Mike hasn’t seen it, the writer has.
It starts out very kitchen sinky. As my Usual Cinema Buddy remarked, people like those in the film seemed to be in the cinema. And they were there just to annoy me and reinforce my usual cultural stereotypes about how nobody behaves well any more, ever, anywhere. Then it goes all technicolour Clint on me with Harry shooting the bad guys. Oh, I am so certain that a Magnum .357 would shut them up, in my preferred cinema, and their little crackling popcorn friends with their noisy phones too! Why can’t I own a gun here when I could in Miami? It makes life simpler.
Sigh. Michael Caine could read the phone book and I’d be happy. He actually brings a youthful energy to the role and improves the situation along the way. The people who play the police feel real and don’t have “hero” tattoed on their fronts – how refreshing is that?
I loved it. See it before it goes away. Can we please have more Brit movies with chances of redemption and joy? How many Prozac prescriptions would that eliminate? When did this country become so grim and why? There is so much good and warm here, as shown in both these movies, that needs to be nurtured and grown.