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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.