A great British New Wave film set in a 1950s working class neighbourhood – it is set in Nottingham, England but could quite easily be set anywhere in Great Britain. The film is also described as “kitchen sink realism” for which the film’s director Tony Richardson was a notable figure with many similar films. These films, and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning represent the social awakening and the voice of regular working class people who begin to question the typical and rigid married, working lifestyle that is expected of them. It is the first opportunity many working class groups of people were represented and tackled issues such as abortion, work, marriage, housing, and sex. Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) embodies this as a rebellious, boisterous young man who lives at home, works in a local factory, chases women and drinks in excess on the weekends.
Seaton is having an affair with the wife of a colleague, her husband seemingly being the only one not in the know. Seaton being generally disillusioned with life and annoyed that Brenda, his married lover, can have her cake and eat it decides to pursue the affections of a local girl, Doreen, who he begins to court. Much of the interest of the film comes from the love-triangle but also lies in the detached nature of Seaton, similar to other British films of the time, and although he raises some legitimate concerns about 1950s life which are still relevant today. You just can’t help but feel he expresses himself ineffectually – something many young men are probably guilty of.
The film is fantastic. There are many great British New Wave films. I think if you were unaware of his work or this era of film you would enjoy this and hopefully go on to watch more, such as Look Back in Anger, This Sporting Life or The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. The film perfectly encapsulates the behaviour and attitude of many working class Brits. As a film it feels special as it is on the tip of an enlightening period for a great number of people in their attitudes towards sex, abortion, and politics. One of the best films in a movement that was revolutionary and comparatively few films are as challenging, forward thinking and groundbreaking today.