Ken Loach has survived decades of obscurity to become one of the world’s most well-regarded filmmakers, but most people have probably never seen the majority of his oeuvre. From his early, BBC TV films to his later features, much of his brilliant work deserves a wider audience. This goes double for Raining Stones, a beautiful and simple film about a man trying to obtain a first-communion dress for his daughter.
Politics are always lurking around Loach’s films- sometimes under the surface, and sometimes right up in-your-face. This one is subtle, which makes it that much more subversive- even if you hate politics, the human drama is so moving and touching that one can’t avoid seeing the all-too-real struggles of an average working-class dad. Yet Loach doesn’t linger on blaming the perpetrators- he just shows you the victims, making it impossible not to sympathize with their plight, even when their failures and flaws are clearly evident.
Religion also plays an interesting role here- first, as culture (Bob, our protagonist, wouldn’t be doing any of this if he weren’t deeply Catholic) but also as both a source of support to the masses and, perhaps, the source of their problems- where does God fit into this picture, launching trials and tribulations at our stand-in for Job? The film wisely avoids trying to answer that question, but it sure does serve it up for you to ponder.
Scored by the Police’s own Stewart Copeland, Raining Stones remains one of Loach’s more accessible films. It isn’t exactly a comedy, but it does have some pretty hilarious moments which provide much-needed relief in an otherwise gut-wrenching life scenario. Watch it with a big, bleeding, open heart.