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

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What we share is the attempt to reduce things to the simplest way of explaining something. Reducing and clarifying is not what you see in most films which tend to exaggerate, to make things dramatic. That kind of simplicity, clarity and economy is something we would like to share.

(Ken Loach)

What's especially noticeable about this first section is how Olmi uses sound - the boom of station noise, overheard music and conversations, babies squalling in corridors, the sometimes deafening rattle of the train fading in and out of muffled private moments - to get around the restrictions of space imposed by the train location. But try as he might, the professor can't help but be drawn back to the reality of the carriage's night-mirrored window and the army officer (who looks oddly like Jean-Claude Van Damme, but isn't) sitting scowling opposite him. The soldier speaks only accented English - the new voice of international imperialism, we must understand - but his greatest crime is causing a mother to spill her baby's milk as she hunkers down to feed the child in the crowded corridor between carriages. As the professor asks the waiter to bring him some warm milk so he can take it to the mother, and the train staff mop up the spillage, which looks so much like a puddle of blood, the moment of final resignation comes: the sleep of old age and the old grown helpless like babies again. From St. Jerome to the rampaging rhinocerine Madonna of Kiarostami's central section, which is shot in daylight... The young man, played by Filippo Trojano, has a sad expression and beautiful eyes, which are later accentuated by the flat lighting Kiarostami deploys when the man is talking to a young friend of his sister whom he meets in the corridor (and of whom De Santis' character is jealous). This frontality, this sense of painted iconography, is homage enough to Kiarostami's late friend Pier Paolo Pasolini (Kiarostami's charcoal sketch of Pasolini hung in the bedroom of the Rome flat of the Italian director's muse, Laura Betti, until her death last year). By the conclusion of this second segment De Santis and Trojano's characters have rowed and separated. She leaves the train alone and unaided, but not before one of the best sequences in the film, which harks back to one of the Iranian director's longstanding obsessions and involves an argument over mobile phones (Kiarostami considers them a curse of modernity). The performances in this section are generally the best in the movie, and the final bust-up between Kiarostami's characters, shot through Venetian blinds with the reflection of the countryside rushing past, is quite beautiful... If Loach delivers easily the least rich and imaginative section of the film, it's a satisfyingly light conclusion to Olmi's frightening opening gambit and a welcome return to normality.

(Roger Clarke, Sight & Sound)

Given the calibre of the three directors, and their past feature films, the viewer is entitled to expect a great deal from Tickets, and thankfully is generally not disappointed... Though subtle, and slowly played out, Olmi’s point is made clear. The atmosphere changed immediately, the sounds now not of beautiful music but of the tears of a child, the biochemist no longer able to write the poetic words of his letter, instead choosing to abandon the idea, and the hope, the dream, altogether. In the end though, as he quite literally stares into the face of authority, there is defiance. After the child’s bottle has been smashed, leaving her poor mother with nothing but kisses to offer her, he requests from the onboard waiter a glass of warm milk. When it is delivered, and as the whole carriage of passengers watch, Delle Piane stands and takes the drink to the infant, forcing the soldier to hide his face behind his jacket. Through a simple act of kindness; of humanity, the old man is able to display the madness of an atmosphere which requires military presence in our daily lives... Any fears that the film may have peaked during Olmi’s show however, quickly evaporate at the outset of Ken Loach’s high energy, convincingly funny, and ultimately very touching piece... In the end though, everything works out for all those involved, save for the wretched authorities. The three boys have passed the test of their humanity; emerged as more intelligent, caring souls for the experience, and can now get back to what they are truly here for; to noise up the Roma fans at the airport. The sentiment, though powerful and lasting in its message, is consciously dropped by Loach, careful not to exhaust its preaching, and the energy and comedy of the film returns, the audience leaving the theatre with a smile on their face, and a strangely wistful feeling that life could so easily be better for everyone. In the end, for all the criticism and the momentary disappointments, Tickets is an excellent film, beautiful throughout, and exceptionally emotive in moments.

(Alex McMillan,

Romantic reveries, comic clashes and dicey dilemmas: they're all aboard the winning Tickets, a train-journey triptych from three leading arthouse auteurs. It pulls out of the station at a relatively slow chug with Ermanno Olmi's study of wistful thinking, but then gets up to speed via Abbas Kiarostami's loose and lively tale of a young man and a general's widow. And lastly we're upgraded to first class for Ken Loach's turn in the driver's seat, which reunites the stars of Sweet Sixteen in an exuberant moral fable... Loach [is] at the top of his game with the story of three footy fans who must decide whether an immigrant family is on the make or in dire straits. It's predictable and mildly preachy - but so warm, vital and gut-achingly hilarious that it emerges as reason alone for any right-minded person to bound up to the box office and cry, "Tickets, please!"

(Matthew Leyland, BBCi)

[Loach’s segment is] pleasingly profane, politically well-meaning, and makes for a rousing coda to a film that’s consistently warm, witty and wise.

(Geoff Andrew, Time Out)

This is an enjoyable, well-observed movie, though scarcely gauged to make you rush off inter-railing. But what ties the three episodes together and gives the film its resonance is the title. The movie isn't called Fellow Passengers or Stragglers on a Train. It's called Tickets and this metaphor for privilege and stark social divisions runs right the way through. The clever secretary in Olmi's tale has bought two tickets for the professor, to provide extra room and comfort, and this puts a divide between him and the hapless Albanian family stuck in the corridor all night without food or seats. The general's widow in Kiarostami's picture believes she is entitled to first-class travel, though she has in fact only a second-class ticket. But by standing so firmly on her dignity she cows an official into giving her the privilege she demands. In the Loach episode a ticket can be a matter of life and death - saving your job, keeping you out of jail, holding off the threat of deportation, or just letting you live your life.

(Philip French, Observer)

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