My Name is Joe - rated - HOT! HOT! HOT!

Loach back on Target

My Name is Joe is the best Ken Loach film I've seen since Raining Stones. Actually, I've had somewhat of a Fatwa against Loach since Ladybird Ladybird, which I considered to be a loathesome irresponsible film. But with My Name is Joe, Loach has eschewed one-eyed sentimentality and given us a story of people who are trying to take control of their lives and act like adults.

These are tough people, and they have tough lives, but they are - or almost all are - equal to the task.
Loach isn't pushing any barrows this time: he's clear-eyed, telling us a story and letting us draw our own conclusions about the moral decisions the characters make. Sure, there are economic imperatives in the mix, but that's life - especially when life is in Glasgow.

Peter Mullens gives a strong and brilliant performance as Joe, the alcoholic football coach who's trying to live one day at a time. Louise Goodall (Sarah) is a good foil to Mullens as the no-nonsense health-worker he falls in love with. These are people who've been through the mill, and the love scenes between them are astonishing, because Joe and Sarah look like real people. You don't realise how rare that is until you see all that imperfection magnificently realised on the big screen. I can't remember two people I more wanted to come together in a film.

The two supporting players, David McKay as Liam and Annemarie Kennedy (a non-professional actor) as Sabine are also powreful and real as a young couple who interfere with joe's plans for his future life, and his budding relationship with Sarah. Sarah comes from a stable, middle class background and can't understand why Joe would let this happen. But as Joe tells her "Some of us don't have a chance". This is as close as Loach gets to preaching, and it really hits the mark because Joe's dilemma has been so skilfully shown to us. Some of us have choices and some of us don't. That's the terrible, undeniable truth.

Loach is so straight-up-and-down on this story that, when tragedy comes, it hits us between the eyes. It really knocked me for six, which meant that I left the theatre reeling, as well as thinking. That's what I like from a film, and this time Loach gave it to me.