It's a Free World... 

Directed by Ken Loach

Disappointed by Diary of the Dead? 2006 Cannes Golden Palm-winner Ken Loach's latest–about immigrant-recruitment agents in London–makes similar points more eloquently, and without resorting to allegory. Whereas the zombie genre's cultural currency involves its implicit attack on capitalism, Loach grounds his social critique in contemporary experience. Still, certain lines from It's a Free World smack of... zombie-ism. As our protagonist Angie (the terrific Kierston Wareing) gets deeper into trouble running a labor recruitment agency, her flatmate and business partner Rose (Julie Ellis) puts it succinctly: "We've made a living out of them."

"Them" here refers not to the living dead but to the laboring immigrants (some legal, most not) who Angie and Rose dispatch to underpaid short-term jobs. Loach adroitly shows Angie's moments of self-critique then plunges her back into everyday drama. Alienated from her adolescent son and facing entrenched sexism in an industry without ethics, her pretty face is her armor, concealing a sensitive heart as best it can. If zombie films value brains, Loach suggests they're worthless without a heart. His free world, then, is only free for the heartless.

Opens February 29 at BAM Rose Cinemas

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