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It's a Free World . . . (4 stars)

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It's a Free World...

(15) 96min (Channel 4)
SOCIAL REALIST DRAMA

Grandfather of British social realist cinema Ken Loach and Glasgow-born screenwriter Paul Laverty’s follow up to their Cannes Palme d’Or-winning rise of the IRA thriller The Wind that Shakes the Barley is a biting, bang up to date drama about the exploitation of immigrant labour in the UK that deservedly scooped three major awards after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival last month.

Focusing on a gorgeous, charismatic and ruthless London recruitment consultant named Angie (impressive newcomer Kierston Wareing), who sets up her own business and becomes the pretty face of gangmastery, It’s a Free World . . . is not only a searing indictment of what in this case is largely Eastern European labour exploitation, it’s also a burning condemnation of the callous entrepreneurship that blights the UK.

As ever, Loach’s storytelling is naturalistic, non-sensational and yet deeply shocking and extremely thought-provoking. Meanwhile, Laverty’s decision to tell the story from the point of view of a very ambiguous – and very likeable – character is inspired, and complicates, in a good way, the issues at hand that might have been treated in purely black and white terms. The DVD release, following soon after the recent screening on Channel Four (the film’s producers), includes an unsurprisingly engrossing director’s commentary.

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