Sheffield, 1980: the evening paper warns of yet more redundancies in the steel industry, and the choice before school leavers Alan and Mick is either the forces or the dole. Alan (Pitts) enlists and is posted to Belfast, where he develops a taste for duffing up Catholics. Mick (Green) stays at home, tinkers with his bike, scours the sits vac, and takes up with shop-girl Karen (Nicholson) amid rising despair. Familiar Loach territory, and presented in characteristically spartan documentary style. Excellent performances from the three principals (all amateurs), resolutely unfussy black-and-white photography by Chris Menges, and a complete absence of self-consciousness on either side of the camera add up to a quietly devastating portrayal of human waste.
Looks and Smiles
Cast and crew