movie film review | chris tookey


  Tickets Review
Tookey's Rating
1 /10
Average Rating
5.38 /10
Carlo Delle Piane, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Silvana De Santis
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Directed by: Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach
Written by: Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami, Paul Laverty

Released: 2005
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: Italy/ UK
Colour: C
Length: 109

A good example of why art-house cinema doesn’t sell tickets.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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A new portmanteau film by three of cinema’s most acclaimed art-house directors should be an occasion for celebration; but Tickets shows inadvertently why too much art-house cinema is an irrelevant bore.

All three segments are set on a trans-European train heading towards Rome. The first section, by veteran Italian Marxist Ermanno Olmi, is a lyrical account of an old pharmacologist daydreaming about the passive beauty of a woman he has just met.

His sex-charged serenity contrasts with the barely concealed brutality of some soldiers searching the carriage for someone – terrorists? Illegal immigrants? We are never told. In the end, the old man offers milk to a family of Albanian migrants. This is clearly an act of kindness, but it carries no dramatic weight, since he is not having to sacrifice anything to buy it for them, and we are not even sure at this point who the migrants are.

The second, slightly less somnolent story, by the minimalist Iranian Abbas Kiarastomi (current darling of cinema snobs everywhere), concerns a young man who is travelling with a difficult, domineering and obese middle-aged woman. However rude she is, he defers to her. Only at the end does he give her the slip (how, we never discover), leaving her to get off the train alone.

The purpose of this slackly plotted, under-energised episode is hard to comprehend. At first sight, it seems to be about the indissolubility of family ties, however obnoxious your relatives, but then the young man turns out to be doing community service. Perhaps it’s an allegory about Iran. Perhaps not. Whatever it is, it’s talky, dull and fails to communicate any discernible point to the audience.

Ken Loach’s segment, written by his frequent collaborator Paul Laverty, at least has some energy, but demonstrates the faults that have always undermined his talent. It favours political posturing over constructing a plot and characters that demonstrate credible human behaviour.

Loach reunites the young actors at the heart of his council estate drama, Sweet Sixteen. Martin Compston, William Ruane and Gary Maitland (pictured) play a trio of Celtic supporters on their way to a Champions’ League match against Roma. At first, they come across as the kind of loud, foul-mouthed, insensitive louts whom most people would change trains to avoid. When they leap to the conclusion that one of them has had his ticket stolen by an Albanian boy who’s part of the migrant family in Olmi’s story, something ugly seems about to happen.

Don’t read the next two paragraphs if you’re planning to see Tickets, but I can’t discuss the film’s shortcomings without revealing the twist. When the weeping mother of the family excuses the theft on grounds of poverty, the lads relent, even offering them another ticket free of charge, even though their tickets are presumably returns and the lads have no money to buy replacements to get them home. This preachy outcome is deeply unlikely in real life, but it suits Loach and Laverty to believe in a deep solidarity, selflessness and kindliness that run through the working class, or at any rate those representatives of the class that they are willing to put on film.

Loach and Laverty think mistakenly that their audience will go along with their left-wing homily without questioning its likelihood. We’re meant to revel in the lads’ subsequent escape from the clutches of those petty officials who have the bourgeois effrontery to think football fans should be able to show a ticket to an inspector when they are asked for one. Perhaps some of us will. The rest of us will think they’re idiots.

All three directors aim, in their different ways, for simplicity, clarity and economy, but achieve only banality, inconsequentiality and sickly, left-wing sentiment. Still, film criticism is as full of pseuds and head-in-the-sand lefties as any other branch of the Arts. I wouldn’t mind betting that Tickets attracts the most favourable reviews of the week – as well as the smallest audiences.

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