The Nature of the Beast
Time Out saysThe beast is unemployment. There have been eight years of Thatcherism since Franco Rosso's Babylon, and as he turns from what it was to be working class, black and British in Brixton to what it is to be working class, white and unemployed in the distressed North of England, the effect of the intervening years can be detected in both the change of location to the colder, stonier climes of Lancashire, and the quieter but more desperate responses of his characters. The plainly allegorical tale is from the same school, if not the same class, as Kes. Fletcher (the hero's brother in Loach's film) plays the father of another troubled teenager and school truant, motherless wild-child Bill (Dearden), from whose point of view the narrative unfolds. There's trouble't mill. Grandad (Melody) is sacked, Dad joins the picket. Meanwhile a beast roams the moors, descending on the town to kill at night. Superstition is rife, and Bill takes a gun to kill it. The results may be uneven, but the restrained performances are truthful, and the sense of pain and frustration is genuinely moving.