When 79 year old Ken Loach won the Palme D’or at this year Cannes Film Festival for his film “I,Daniel Blake”, I remember thinking, how great that people his age defy the norm and continue being just as bright and productive as when they were younger.Let’s face it, society wants us all to retire at 60, in fact, past 50 they already like to put people on the shelf but life is not over till is over and Ken Loach is an example of an artist with a very long career behind and hopefully ahead. An example of how if you are brilliant you are so forever regardless of all the ageist attitudes taking over our youth obsessed societies.
But I’m not here to talk about Ken Loach latest film but his first, “Poor Cow”, a film made in 1967. Yes, 49 years ago. Having recently watched it for the first time, this joy of a film feels modern, edgy, cool, relevant and refreshing.An ageless piece of filmmaking that is currently getting a nationwide cinema release. There are a lot of reasons why you should see this brilliant piece of filmmaking. First of all, it is a newly restored version so it looks just as good as if you were right there in the streets of London in the 60’s.Second, it is the film that kickstarted the social realist filmmaking or the British version of the French New Wave and last but not least, the main actress, Carol White, is truly a joy to watch. A superb actress who sadly passed away before her time.In this film, she is in a state of grace, a sunshine on a cloudy day.
The film was written by screenwriter and original novelist Nell Dunn and it tells the story of Joy, (Carol White) a young mother who as the film opens gives birth alone to a beautiful baby boy. The birth scene is superb, it just couldn’t get any better. Joy, the main character, is a pretty, fun loving woman with a fiery spirit but her wings cant fly too high as she is married to a domestic abuser and thief, Tom. He is sent to jail for his petty crimes and during this time Joy falls for her husband’s associate, Dave who is just as bad for her and the baby boy as her husband . Lost and lonely Joy has a terrible weakness for avoiding her loneliness and meets other dubious gentlemen when Dave is also sent to jail. She gets lost in a world where men pay for her services but the film doesn’t judge her on this, it makes you believe that it is her social background and current circumstances that lead her to letting herself down as a woman.
The film has a documentary style look that make you feel as if you were following the characters around London; Handheld cameras, jump cuts and improvised lines.First time I saw Goddard classic ‘Breathless’I must have been 22 and I was hooked, I remember loving it so much , I spent the whole summer watching every French New wave film screened at my local cinema at the time, The Riverside studios in Hammersmith. That, I remember it as one of my greatest summers. The same kind of feeling took over me when I saw “Poor Cow” for the first time, I really wasn’t expecting the film I saw because despite the heavy drama, it feels light but above all, it feels frank, honest, open and very fresh.
I seriously recommend that if you love films, filmmakers and good stories, this is the one to watch this summer. For information on upcoming screenings: http://www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk/films/poorcow
The film is also available on DVD and Blu-ray on the Vintage classic label.