"Peterloo" by Yojimbo
Yojimbo - wrote on 03/22/19
A survivor of the battle of Waterloo returns home to a Manchester wracked by joblessness and grinding poverty, where he and his family find hope in the form of a popular movement to enfranchise the working class.
Mike Leigh’s socialist opus revolves around the reformist movement of the 19th century and its ruthless crushing by an indifferent and arrogant elite made paranoid of insurrection by the French revolution some years earlier. It has a very old fashioned feel to it, often as it is very stagey as cast members spout their lines earnestly in static locations in a fashion reminiscent of a period kitchen sink soap opera. It seems very dry because of this, the characters pretty much all working class caricatures about whom we learn very little. The politicians and aristocrats are virtually all moustache-twirling cads or indifferent buffoons and far too much of the story is based around speech making and info-dumps about parliamentary law. The climax is very well staged however, once again highlighting the cruelty of empire also characterised by the Amritsar massacre, Bloody Sunday and even Hillsborough.
Peterloo is an interesting history lesson but with little in the way of personal connection with the characters, it feels rather more like something you were made to sit through at school than popular entertainment.