Watched: February 15 2021
Director: Ken Loach
Starring: Carol White, John Bindon, Terence Stamp
Runtime: 1h 41min
Joy (White) gets pregnant at a young age and marries her baby-daddy Tom (Bindon), despite him being an abusive dick. As a young, working class girl we can’t imagine she felt she had much choice in the matter. Luckily for her, her hubby is caught during a robbery and is sent off to jail. Yay!
Once Tom’s out of the picture, life gets better. She starts a relationship with Dave (Stamp) – another criminal, but one who treats her well and takes good care of both her and her son Johnny. However, soon he too is arrested and sentenced to 12 years for a brutal robbery. Not yay. Well, sort of yay, seeing he really is a violent criminal (with a penchant for collecting ladies, which isn’t very nice). So, all in all a semi-yay. A muted celebration. Prosecco in lieu of champagne. That sort of shindig.
Joy stays in touch with Dave in prison and continues their relationship as best she can, but a girl’s gotta make a living. She gets a job as a barmaid, and then as a model for a bunch of perverts who get their rocks off taking pictures of scantily clad women. But as her friend points out, she enjoys sex and flirting too much to make a career out of prostitution – she’s very happy to do it for free! Fair enough. Soon however, Tom is released from prison, and Joy is faced with some tough choices… And she makes the very worst one! The idiot…
We must admit a pattern in ourselves, where we’re sometimes a little bit unenthusiastic about putting on kitchen sink dramas (sometimes you just want stupid entertainment from a movie, not life lessons or heart breaking drama!)… But more often than not we end up really enjoying them, and that is exactly what happened with this movie.
Despite our misgivings about Joy’s choices, Poor Cow is quite engaging. It woke us right up with the childbirth in the opening scene and we liked the efficient storytelling – by skipping from scene to scene we get the whole story with minimal effort on all our parts. And we love us some minimal effort. We also loved the faces in the crowd – Loach knew how to pick them! – the fact that the women actually liked sex and, as per usual, the clothes and the hair. Was it our favourite social realism kitchen sink drama British new wave type of film? No. But was it worth watching? Yes, definitely.
However, we’re not entirely sure what to think of Joy. We don’t really get any insight into her internal workings, which kind of works – she remains a bit of a mystery. But man, make good choices, girl! And if your reaction to realising that your son is the most important thing in your life is to stay with his abusive dad who clearly gives no shits about him or you, then you need to sort out your priorities.
What we learned: Everybody’s bent.
Next time: Privilege (1967)