George (Carlyle), a Glaswegian bus driver, is headstrong and goofy enough to steal his sweetheart away on a diversion around Loch Lomond in his double-decker. The object of his affection, Carla (Cabezas), is a refugee from Nicaragua. Alerted to her suicidal tendencies, George persuades Carla to return with him to Central America, so that she can confront the ghosts of her past, and resolve her relationship with the mysterious Antonio. The year's 1987, and he has no idea what life's really like in a war zone. A film of two halves, this has all Loach's virtues and failings, and in that order. The first hour is sharp and funny, tender and real. George's courtship of an exotic stranger whose pain he can only dimly comprehend rings very true. His attention makes things harder for her, and he's in over his head well before they touch down in Managua. But here the film loses its feet. The focus shifts from foreground to background. George becomes a passive witness - an audience identification figure whose political re-education fits surprisingly neatly into the liberal Hollywood tradition of Missing and Under Fire. Fair enough, but Loach never looks very comfortable with this formula, Carla is lost in the shuffle, and screenwriter Paul Laverty's belated attempts to graft some suspense on to the proceedings are half-cocked and under-plotted.
Cast and crew