Bread & Roses

"Weak"

Bread & Roses Review


"Bread and Roses" isn't a movie so much as a political soapbox made of celluloid, so if you lean to the right on unionization and immigrant's rights, you might as well stop reading right here.

Personally, I tend to lean left. But no so far left that I'm ready to embrace this movie's selfish, ungrateful main character just because she makes minimum wage without benefits as a janitor, one month after sneaking over the border.

Maya (Pillar Padilla) is living in Los Angeles on the good graces of her older sister Rosa (Elpidia Carrillo), who helped her get into the country and got her a job cleaning offices in a downtown skyscraper. And even though generous, sacrificial Rosa -- who supports an injured husband and a handful of kids on her meager salary at the same job -- specifically asks her to not rock the boat at work, Maya gets involved with a union organizer named Sam (Adrien Brody) and it isn't long before she's helping lead marches and protests against the building's owners, tenants and contractors.

Director Ken Loach ("My Name Is Joe") does an adequate job of building a moving story around his cast of bottom-rung workers, who are ignored by the rich white folks whose offices they clean while being exploited, mistreated and financially gouged by their employers. He has a fine cast too. Padilla, Brody and Carrillo lend their characters depth and nuance that implies they've had entire lives before we come across them in this story.

But the propaganda is just relentless. Everybody involved with the union is practically wearing a halo in "Bread and Roses." All the illegal immigrants are portrayed as noble and put-down by The Man. And except for Sam and Rosa's husband, every white character is a soulless, shallow, money-grubbing creep played by a bad actor.

Granted, the film's portrayal of the intimidation tactics used to discourage organization probably aren't far off base, but god forbid any mention be made of the way unions shut out workers who won't join or the way they can, given power, become at least as corrupt as the corporations they combat.

But it's really not the dogma of this movie that bothered me. Its fundamental flaw is expecting the audience to sympathize with Maya. She shows her sister no gratitude or respect for helping her get into the U.S., or for feeding her and giving her a place to live, or for putting up with her selfish attitude.

She seems to think she's entitled to having a better life handed to her just because she made it over the border and survived some indignity and abuse at the hands of the smugglers that led the way. And when her unionization efforts get a college-bound co-worker fired before he'd paid his tuition, she seems to think robbery is a legitimate way to make it up to him -- but only because she feels guilty.

Who cares how the guy who owns the gas station feels when she locks him in a bathroom and empties his cash register, right? Who cares that he probably got the crap beaten out of him after she tells a customer who interrupts her heist that she locked him in there when he flashed her?

Give me a heroine who isn't so egocentric and utterly worthless, and perhaps I'll sit and listen to you grouse about inequity and injustice against illegal immigrants. But give me a girl like Maya and my knee-jerk reaction is to root for her to get caught and sent back to Mexico.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th June 1994

Production compaines: Alta Films S.A., Parallax Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Maya, as Sam Shapiro, as Bert, Monica Rivas as Simona, Frankie Davila as Luis, Lillian Hurst as Anna, Mayron Payes as Ben, Maria Orellana as Berta, Melody Garrett as Cynthia, as Rosa, as Perez

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Advertisement
Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.