My Name Is Joe

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

Ken Loach, Britain's last crusading leftist film director, returns to his particular brand of social realism with this tale of a recovering alcoholic and general do-gooder whose best intentions jeopardize his opportunity to find love with a social worker. Joe (Peter Mullan, who won the Best Actor prize at Cannes) hit bottom long ago and has spent the better...read more

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Reviewed by Sandra Contreras
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Ken Loach, Britain's last crusading leftist film director, returns to his particular brand of social realism with this tale of a recovering alcoholic and general do-gooder whose best intentions jeopardize his opportunity to find love with a social worker.

Joe (Peter Mullan, who won the Best Actor prize at Cannes) hit bottom long ago and has spent the better part of a decade crawling back up. He's on the dole, lives in a decrepit Glasgow neighborhood dominated by crumbling concrete public housing, and passes the time coaching a group of raucous

youths in their weekly football matches. It's a bleak world, and Loach never hesitates to turn the bleak Glaswegian light on these sickly complexioned Scots and their vacant, drug-addled stares. While picking up Liam (David McKay), of his soccer lads, Joe meets children's health visitor Sarah

(Louise Goodall), who's checking up on Liam's kid. After an acerbic exchange, Joe runs into Sarah again and winds up offering to wallpaper her apartment. He gets ratted out for working while collecting unemployment benefits, but Sarah saves his hide by writing the authorities and insisting that

she didn't pay for Joe's work. The episode perfectly encapsulates Loach's ongoing social concerns, from his ambivalence toward government intervention to all manner of subtle class issues. The fledgling couple's problems are compounded by Joe's desire to help Liam when Liam's partner Sabine

(Anne-Marie Kennedy) starts turning tricks to support her heroin addiction. The charismatic Joe sticks out among this scowling bunch by virtue of the glimmer in his eye, which grows stronger as his relationship with the somewhat self-righteous Sarah deepens. This is familiar and predictable

territory for Loach, but Mullan's complex performance makes us care about the inevitable hard knocks and ambiguous moral questions his character navigates. Forget the popcorn -- pass the vodka. (In heavily accented English, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Ken Loach, Britain's last crusading leftist film director, returns to his particular brand of social realism with this tale of a recovering alcoholic and general do-gooder whose best intentions jeopardize his opportunity to find love with a social worker.… (more)

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