Monday, March 08, 2010


Richard Burton in Look Back in Anger is a miserable prick consciously trying to make everyone around miserable. Albert Finney in this film is mostly just an angry young bloke trying to make the most of his weekends. Of the two types of angry young man, Finney's Arthur may be the more dangerous -- he doesn't even realize when he's hurting someone.

Finney plays a factory worker, Arthur, at odds with his 9-to-5. He gets falling-down-stairs drunk on Friday nights, sleeps with his pensioner co-worker's wife behind his back on Saturdays and shoots old lady gossips in their arses with a BB gun in his council house courtyard on Sundays. Then on Monday it's right back to the grind. When the pensioner starts to get wise and the pensioner's wife starts to get pregnant, Arthur's weekend bouts of bacchanalia seem in jeopardy, especially when a young single lass he actually likes comes into the picture.

As angry young men are wont to do, Arthur resists all encroaching responsibility as long as possible. You know he's due for a beat-down and so does he, but that doesn't mean he's ready to throw in the middle class towel any time soon. Watching Arthur evade his comeuppance as long as possible makes for a guilty pleasure, and Albert Finney plays Arthur's roiling unease with a deft, light touch. He's a cad, yes, but a fun cad to be around. You want to see him rage, rage against the dying of the light a little longer, even though you know what he needs most is to get his lights punched out.

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