Focusing on three Iowan families laid low by the recession, it exposes the fallacy of right-wing claims that welfare is a hammock rather than a safety net. The parents are desperate to work and the kids desperate to learn, but unemployment benefit is pitiful, medical insurance scanty and waiting lists for subsidised housing on the rise. Theirs are itinerant lives of homeless shelters, motels and a constant, gnawing hunger.
As ever, the kids cut to the quick with the heartbreaking maturity of their observations: ‘Grades is my only way out of here,’ says 13-year-old Johnny; ‘This is not the Great American Dream,’ reckons 11-year-old Sarah. Yet there’s no self-pity, which, perhaps oddly, makes this important film as inspiring as it does despairing.
Counter Vauxhall Bar & Brasserie
Like King’s Cross before it, dingy, dirty Vauxhall has long been a hub you pass through via tube, train or bus en route to somewhere better. But things are ever-so-slowly changing, as the railway arches and its surrounds become populated with restaurants of serious aspiration, alongside the area's numerous clubs. Counter is the smartest addition yet – a beautifully designed space with echoes of art-deco whose mirror-adorned walls and comfortable booths are picked out in grey, with warm yellow lighting creating a cosy vibe despite the industrial surrounds. Its premises span the entire length of one arch, but it’s been cleverly divided into two dining rooms so as not to feel cavernous. With the main entrance just yards from the tube and train exits, lots of punters are likely to be frustrated commuters who’ve missed their connection – and that’s what the long, four-sided bar is for, its upbeat cocktail menu peppered with local references, such as the Vauxhall Vesper. Once ensconced, there is much on the French/US brasserie-style menu to tempt you to stay longer. Everything we ate was commendable and well-meaning without blowing our socks off. A bulbous deep-fried duck egg with frisée, beetroot cubes and crunchy croûtons was a little overcooked on the inside, a little undercooked on the outside, while a small fillet of mackerel, though expertly cured in gin and lime, lacked flavour despite a scattergun salad of almonds, chard, cucumber and pear. A main course of beautifully t
Venue says: “Vauxhall’s all-day bar and brasserie. From American breakfast and bottomless bubbles brunch to happy hour, modern French dinner and drinks.”