Ken Loach has been the backbone of our film industry since he came into our lives in 1967 (funnily enough, for this film.) Anyway, the film director, along with brethren such as Mike Leigh and Andrea Arnold, who have crafted such intense British dramas named lovingly as kitchen sink realism. The dark heart of British cinema is in the portrayal of the impoverished, imprisoned, and often elapsed souls of our society. They catch these stories and intricately weave harrowing emotions with realistic characters that secure redolent memories within our minds.
Loach is definitely one of the best and his work continues with the Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake, which is out later this year.
However, today on DVD and Blu-Ray, we’re going back to explore his directorial debut Poor Cow which is a title that explains everything you know you are going to get from the film.
Poor Cow sees Joy, a young and hapless mother, forced to fend for herself after her abusive and unkind husband Tom is jailed. When criminal associate Dave attracts Joy’s attentions, they have a brief happiness and it looks as though Joy is piecing her life together again. As this is a Ken Loach film, however, the events become squiffy again when Dave is also arrested and thrown into. Joy is left to fend for herself and her young son in the worst kind of squalor. Could the character eventually find her namesake happiness?
There is a nagging sensation to peer back at Poor Cow with a glassy eyed nostalgia made possible by the near impeccable work that Loach has crafted since his directorial debut. True, Poor Cow is peppered by Loach’s trademark work. At times the dark, deep, and devastating drama, the emotions broil within the settings and in your stomach equally. The character study of Joy, played with astute precision by Carol White, and Terence Stamp’s Dave help evolve the studied relationship and all the strife the pair go through just to live and love. In many ways, Poor Cow hits hard and fast with churning accuracy that many can relate too.
The problem with Poor Cow, beyond the fact that Loach work since has been damn near impeccable, it’s that Poor Cow suffers from the general debut issues and the traps of the genre that Loach made his name in. If you aren’t used to drab and utterly depressing films under the scruff off bleak cinematography, then Poor Cow can seem alarming and, at times, quite dull. And yes, the film really, really focuses on how dire events have gotten which muddles the lovers tale and Joy’s story because, eventually, you are somewhat bored by the film. It’s tragic but not terrific. Good but not great.
Poor Cow may not be the biggest triumph in Loach’s repertoire and I can’t say it is an important watch. Unless, however, if you wish to see how he has evolved his craft, then Poor Cow is vital to see. Especially with the wonderful performances.
POOR COW IS OUT ON DVD & BLU-RAY NOW!