February 21, 2003
Ken Loach has put out another film with a social and political message. This time, he takes a look at a period in the mid-1990s when the national rail system of England was privatized. It used to be run by British Rail, but now was in the hands of private companies charged with reducing costs and making the system efficient and profitable.
This film is set in Yorkshire, England, where the workers at a train depot have just found out their lives will be changed forever. At first, they think it's a joke, but they soon realize their lives will never be the same. They are offered severance packages, but if they want to stay on, they'll have to reapply and go through the hiring process.
The co-workers have always had strong relationships with each other. However, as the new managers come in, they "divide and conquer" the workers. Now they have been assigned to new managers and even new companies. This division strains their loyalties to the railroad and to themselves.
This film had its world premiere at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. It has won several awards, including the Children and Cinema Award and the Rota Soundtrack Award at the 2001 Venice Film Festival. It has already been shown on British television, but is still expected to get a limited release in the United States, as Ken Loach's other recent films have. (Marty Doskins/BOP)