Bread and Roses (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Not every zero budget independent film has to be about vampires or cops.

This one has a real social conscience. In U.S. cities with a major immigrant community,  like Los Angeles, there are individuals and companies who exploit the illegal immigrants. The companies pay them minimum wage with no benefits of any kind, and some of the company officials take additional kickbacks or sexual favors for allowing the immigrants to continue working. The immigrants are trapped by a feeling of powerlessness. How do you organize when you aren't supposed to have a job in the first place, maybe shouldn't even be in the country. This film is about that dilemma. 


female: none

male: early in the film, there is a male shower scene

It was made by the venerable Ken Loach, the British socialist whose activist films have been challenging the conscience of the free world for about four decades. One of his films is said to have caused a change in the British laws regarding the homeless. Loach is 65 now, and still going strong.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen 1.85:1

  • no features

This film is rated an impressive 7.1 at IMDb, got two thumbs 'way up' from Ebert and Roeper, and was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes. Those are really votes for the message, not the execution, and are ignoring the fact that the film itself just isn't that good. 

It has a good message, but delivers it with a ham fist. I agreed with the message right from the start, which then required me to seek entertainment from the plot and characters, a quest which I found disappointing. It's filled with speeches and meetings and protest songs and obvious moralizing. I hit the fast forward early and often, during all the places when the plot stalled for speechifyin' and singin'.

This is OK, I found it touching in spots, but if you want to see a good movie on this subject, watch Bound for Glory again, which has workers who are even more downtrodden, and much better songs. 

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.1 
  • With their dollars ... it grossed $500,000 in the USA, but that was probably all profit, judging from the look of the film. The maximum exposure was 39 screens.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Drab characters, predictable melodrama, obvious moral. It can bring a tear to your eye, however. Good heart, bad movie.

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