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Joe (Peter Mullan) is a recovering alcoholic living in Glasgow. Heís been off the bottle for 10 months and, although he has no job, manages a local football team. One of the players on the team is Liam (David McKay) a young man with addiction problems of his own. While picking up Liam for a game, Joe meets health visitor Sarah (Louise Goodall). Although their initial contact is hardly pleasant, they soon make a connection. Meanwhile, Liam and his girlfriend Sabine (Annemarie Kennedy) have fallen off the wagon; leading them in hefty debt to a gangster, McGowan (David Hayman). Joe tries to help his friend; but in doing so, must make a series of choices - each of which carries its own risks.

"Ken Loach returns to the bleak urban settings of Raining Stones and Riff Raff for his most accessible - and best - film in years. With My Name is Joe, he skillfully crafts a story of compassion, deprivation, love, crime, tragedy and hope. Although a few scenes perhaps donít ring entirely true, this is a film of heart and soul. Thankfully, Loach is content to leave his political concerns as a subtext rather than push them in the audienceís face, a la Land and Freedom. This leaves the film free to concentrate on the human drama that unfolds almost imperceptibly at times; but with undeniable force. The relationship between Joe and Sarah also works (for the most part anyway) because itís infused with all the foibles - pain, heartache, joy, bewilderment and doubt - of real love. Donít expect a Hollywood-style romance here. There are also some moments of gentle comedy; notably one involving the acquisition of some new soccer jerseys. Peter Mullan is wonderful, fully deserving of his best actor nod at Cannes in 1998. He brings a down-to-earth quality to Joe; but mixes in a sensitivity and feel for his humanity that belies the "recovering alcoholic" stereotype. Louise Goodall is fine as Sarah, a woman secure in her own life until she meets Joe - who then proceeds to turn that life upside down. The supporting cast features a mix of non-professional and established actors, who provide an air of authenticity to the ensemble. My Name is Joe is at times a difficult, challenging journey; but itís an undeniably exceptional film that rewards the effort."
David Edwards

"Whatever its weaknesses, My Name is Joe has one enormous strength: it is entirely credible in terms of its setting, both geographically and socially. This cultural specificity makes the film universally fascinating Ė and equally resonant everywhere because of its veracity about its characters. Mullan is marvellous, Goodall is generous and the rest of the cast seamlessly brilliant, making the film a pleasure. I do have one quibble, and itís difficult to discuss without giving away some of the filmís plot points near the end. Suffice to say it concerns Joeís treatment at the hands of a serious senior criminal in the wake of Joe beating up the man and his goons. That aside, the film threads its way through the intimate and public landscape pretty well, and presents another lesson in life on the edge. What do we get out of it? Tense drama, soft humanity and some sardonic humour with a Graswegian flavour. Not bad for the ticket price. (There was on odd gap in subtitling [subtitled English language film? No, itís broad Scottish.] right in the middle where it was badly needed, but that may be corrected by the time you see it.)
Andrew L. Urban

"There may not be much sunshine in Glasgow, but there's plenty of warmth in the emotions painted in My Name is Joe. Poignant and moving, Ken Loach's richly complex characters struggle to survive in their working class environment. The characters come to life by the very insightful way they have been drawn and described. Joe is an ordinary sort of bloke who lives in a tough neighbourhood. He is an alcoholic who has enough gumption and self respect to pull his socks up since joining AA. Loyal to his friends, he has a compelling sense of fun and an obsessive passion for soccer. Then he meets Sarah. But life isn't that simple. Besides, when you are unemployed, and are surrounded by unsavoury characters dealing in drugs, you can't see your friends get into serious trouble without raising a finger to help. One well-meaning good turn starts the downhill slide of a nightmare. Paul Laverty (who also wrote the memorable Carla's Song) has penned a real and unglossy view of ordinary people struggling to survive. The accents are very broad, and I for one, found the subtitles a helpful reassurance that I wasn't missing anything. Peter Mullan (looking very much like a young Paul Newman) captures the essence of Joe, from his quirky humour to the depth of his demons. Mullan is superb, while Goodall bares her soul in a very touching performance. Theirs is not a passion-filled stars-in-eyes romance, this is an eyes-wide-open mature relationship without illusions. As the story unfolds, each character surprises Ė there is more to everyone than meets the eye. Punctuated by endearing humour and everyday troubles to which we can relate, My Name is a story about hopes and the pursuit of dreams. It's about how life sucks you in, and sometimes where there once was a choice, there is no longer, and you become a victim of your circumstance."
Louise Keller

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Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0




CAST: Peter Mullan, Louise Goodall, David McKay, Annemarie Kennedy, David Hayman, Gary Lewis, Lorraine McIntosh


PRODUCER: Rebecca OíBrien

SCRIPT: Paul Laverty


EDITOR: Jonathan Morris

MUSIC: George Fenton


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: July 22, 1999 (Sydney; Melb - Aug 12; Brisb - Sept 9; Adel - Sept 16; Per - tba)

VIDEO RELEASE: April 12, 2000


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