Riff-Raff is a 1991 British film directed by Ken Loach, starring Robert Carlyle and Ricky Tomlinson (the latter plays, and was in real life, a builder). It won the 1991 European Film Award Best Picture award.

Directed byKen Loach
Written byBill Jesse
Produced bySally Hibbin
CinematographyBarry Ackroyd
Edited byJonathan Morris
Music byStewart Copeland
Parallax Pictures
Distributed byChannel Four Films
Release dates
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

As with most Loach films, Riff-Raff is a realistic portrayal of modern Britain. It follows Stevie, played by Robert Carlyle, a Glaswegian recently released from prison who has moved to London and got a job on a building site turning a derelict hospital into luxury apartments.

Plot summary Edit

Patrick 'Stevie' Logan is sleeping rough in London and seeks employment on a building site. Learning that he is homeless, Stevie's new workmates Larry, Mo and Shem volunteer to find him an empty flat to squat in on a nearby housing estate.

Stevie meets struggling Irish actress and singer Susan (Emer McCourt) when he finds and returns a handbag belonging to her. This chance encounter leads to a turbulent relationship.

Stevie rounds up some of the men from the building site to support Susan at one of her pub gigs where she sings "Always on My Mind". The audience is initially hostile, but Larry shames them into calling Susan back for an encore and she sings "With A Little Help From My Friends", which is much better received. Susan agrees to move into Stevie's flat, where they are happy for a time.

On the building site, life continues as a series of small escapades and petty misdemeanors. Larry is vocal in his left-wing views and opposition to Margaret Thatcher and the ruling Conservative party. No-one shares his view that politics is important to their real-life situation. Meanwhile, the management sack men for minor misbehaviour and are only superficially interested in safety.

Stevie and Susan's relationship becomes strained. Susan tends towards negative emotions associated with her lack of career success. Stevie, on the other hand, can be callous and unsympathetic.

After hearing his name on radio Stevie finds out that his mother has died so leaves to attend her funeral in Scotland. In his absence Susan starts using the heroin dealt by youths on the estate. This precipitates the end of their relationship and Susan's sudden departure.

Larry is sacked from the site after requesting safer working conditions. After jokingly making an expensive phone call on the boss' mobile phone, Shem also gets the sack (and is arrested for the assault that follows).

Desmonde, a young construction worker, falls off the roof of the converted hospital and despite Stevie and Mo's efforts to save him he loses grip and falls to the ground and is severely injured. The cause of the accident is unsafe scaffolding, which the men have already been warned about. Stevie and Mo return in the middle of the night and set a huge fire in the building.

Cast Edit

Soundtrack Edit

Reception Edit

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 91% based on 11 reviews.[3]

The film was nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.

References Edit

  1. ^ "Back to the Future: The Fall and Rise of the British Film Industry in the 1980s – An Information Briefing" (PDF). British Film Institute. 2005. p. 28.
  2. ^ Cardullo, R.J (2016). Teaching Sound Film: A Reader. Berlin: Springer. p. 148. ISBN 9789463007269.
  3. ^ "Riff-Raff". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 October 2017.

External links Edit