Family Life - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Family Life Reviews

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May 17, 2019
This early Ken Loach film (his third " and the one that immediately followed his first big hit, Kes, 1969) shows him continuing in a social realist vein, detailing the often grim lives of the working class in Britain. In a style that echoes the concurrent documentaries by Frederick Wiseman or the Maysles, we observe interactions between members of a family in a tenement house and sometimes discussing their problems with a psychiatrist. Wiseman may be the better reference point because Loach holds similar concerns about the amount of control placed on individuals by institutions " in this case, parents/family but also the psychiatric institution and society itself. The screenplay was by David Mercer from his play, In Two Minds. Sandy Ratcliff (who died this year, 2019) plays a 19-year-old-girl, living with her domineering parents. She is clearly a victim of the generation gap and when she falls pregnant to her open-minded boyfriend, her mother forces her to have an abortion. The resulting depression leads to much conflict at home and eventually her parents put her into a mental institution. Fortunately, her ward/group is run by a progressive Laingian who clearly believes that parental and societal control are to blame for Janice's problems; however, soon he is fired by the hospital and she is moved to a new ward and given drugs and shock therapy. And things only get worse from that point on. Some consider this film propaganda but despite the nonstop oppressive things that happen to Janice, this is a story that deserves to be told, even though it is over the top (or perhaps especially because it is over the top). Loach is polemical but still allows us to see the confusion of the parents, themselves the product of a different era and subjected to the same types of control that they now seek to impose. Obviously, it is a vicious cycle that keeps the working class in their place (in a factory or similar). You probably want to choose an appropriate time to expose yourself to this one.
December 16, 2012
Life of a Schizophrenic girl!
½ April 19, 2012
Ken Loach's Family Life is a harrowing film which examines the Generational gap which exists between the older and the younger generations pertaining to morals, ambtiions, and pretty much just cultural in general. Somewhere in between a documentary and fiction, Loach's realist style really aids the film in delivering a frighteningly real, honest depiction of how a young woman's slow mental deterioration because of her authoritative parents. Being that the film was released in 1971, I imagine this is Loach's commentary on the 60's, but all of it is equally profound and valid in today's society. I literally found myself physically disgusted at times witnessing the unwillingness of this girl's parents to put themselves in their daughter's shoes and view the world outside of their pre-conceived notions of the world around them. Loach clearly identifies much more with the daughter in the film, and while the parents are shown in a rather vile way, it never becomes unnatural or overbearing--they really are just trying to do what is best for their daughter. The relationship between Control and Nurturing seemed to be the overall theme of the film and it's pulled off well.
December 22, 2010
This seems to be another film having a dig the NHS in the seventies.The story is a bit depressing but the performances were very good, very realistic dialogue.
August 3, 2010
ت?ر?با أ?ض? ???? ش?ت? ?? ??تش
January 28, 2010
Ken Loach's harrowing version of family life in late 60's early 70's before the abortion issues that became political matter later on. Quality performances by a lesser known cast.
½ December 25, 2009
I just finished watching this movie that was part of the Rosetta collection. It was a very emotionally-intense movie. Almost like "Girl, Interrupted" but British and crazier. I was only half paying attention to it, but it was a seriously draining movie. A lot of drama. I recommend it if you are into psychology and understanding teen girls, or just need a good cry.
August 4, 2009
okay, am i trippin or is this film not "reviewed" yet? okay, the film is mostly focused on a psychiatric treatement of a girl that begins to get out of her parents agressively puritan grip, after being persuaded to abort her child she feels more and more lost and her existance seems more and more pointless, she is caught between her parents agressive imbecility and trying to fill up the void and find her place in life somehow by drifting, hanging out, doing a bit of shoplifting etc. its a more or less typical story of a child comming into adulthood and trying to get loose of its parents pathological grip.. but what makes this film outstanding, besides a coherent ideological approach (leftist anti-psychiatry) is ken loaches terrifying realism that makes a much stronger impression of a direct peek into the private lives of those people than any documentary seems capable to make.. you are witnessing something that you kind of know is happening very often and thee isnt much you can do, just watch the girl slowly drift away into total emotional blankness, at the end serving as an example that "there was something wrong within her, after all" and "parents and institutions tried their best to help".. its a brutal film that show how society leaves little space for disobedience and tries as much as it can to marginalize and choke subjects that are practicing it, using their confusion and mental fragility to squash them while they still can.. its the law of the evil and the stupid and while this film is in genre terms clearly not a horror it did leave a very horror like impression and shock to my stomache, feeling of watching a fresh lively thing systematically decay, trapped in a cage, squashed.. in other words- it really pushed my emotional button.. there ARE some scenes i found too commonplace and cheesy BUT those are very rare and can be easily forgiven if we take the film as a whole which is very good and i certainly reccomend, both for emancipatory and aesthetical value!
May 9, 2009
Ken Loach is easily one of my favourite film-makers. This film is an absolute masterpiece, one which shows the utter decrepitude of society and the entire shamelessness of shock therapy and the original concept of family. The film portrays certain incidents very well, exceptional in fact, like the meal with the sister which shows a deep-seated contemporary point of thinking in independence and personal identity that was completely at odds with the norms.
½ October 31, 2008
September 8, 2008
pesante ma ben fatto
½ August 23, 2008
Adapted from David Mercer's Wednesday Play "In Two Minds" from 1967, which Loach also directed. The theme is mental illness and the use of psychiatry as social control (handled with greater subtlety here than in the original play, although there's some none-too-subtle symbolism in the cut-aways to shots of depressingly uniform council houses and a factory assembly line). The cast is great, especially Sandy Ratcliff and Bill Dean. A very well put together film which retains its power to shock, even today.
½ March 16, 2008
A terrible shame no one has reviewed this important and still relevant film. I suppose it is a forgotten gem.
Startlingly real, always poignant, honest, sad and infuriating and thus difficult to watch at times, the film flows somewhere between fiction and documentary per director Ken Loach's social realist style. The performances are mind numbingly rich, just some of the best I've ever seen, I can't begin to praise, particularly lead Sandy Ratcliff and her parents, Bill Dean and Grace Cave The film really has to be seen.
Loach presents no easy answers or exits while looking into the state of a young woman and her family life as her need to detach grows, which in this case leads to a quiet dissection of Western mental health practices and the core of what society can do to an individual as well as their family. The film is an uncoiling and reveal to it all and a soft, slow fade to defeat.
Family Life is on region 2 through Cahiers Du Cinema and through Spirit in the UK and on VHS too. Highly, highly recommended.
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