Road and The Firm

These two recent short features for British television by the late Alan Clarke (1935-1990), each running a little over an hour, are separate entries but should be seen back to back. They’re not only strong examples of Clarke’s corrosive social vision and his skill in directing actors but also impressive demonstrations of his stylistic range. Road (1987), written by playwright Jim Cartwright, offers a potent look at poverty and alcoholism in Lancashire, with impressive on-location camera work and dialogue that exults in its own theatricality and musicality (rather like that of Alan Bowne in Forty Deuce and John Guare in Six Degrees of Separation). The energetic cast includes Life Is Sweet’s Jane Horrocks, Naked’s David Thewlis, and Lesley Sharpe. The Firm (1988), not to be confused with the John Grisham cream puff, is a horrifying look at middle-class thugs who start fights at soccer games. Filmed naturalistically, it was written. by Al Hunter; the cast includes Gary Oldman, Lesley Manville, and Philip Davis. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, January 7, Road: 6:00, The Firm: 7:15, 443-3737.

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