Simon Beaufoy's screenplay and the direction of This Life veteran Sam Miller give this class-conscious British comic drama an unselfconsciousness that's miles away from both the grim nihilism of, say, Mike Leigh's Naked and the escapist, working-man's triumph of Beaufoy's own The Full Monty script. Set in an almost archetypal landscape of endless moors and impossibly tall electrical towers, the film finds its painter protagonists seeking emotional freedom as vast as the spaces in which they work. Rachel Griffiths uses her lyrical face and quiet intensity to power a typically unmannered performance, while Pete Postlethwaite wrenches all sorts of contradictions from his tight-lipped but almost cartoonish countenance. The romantic-triangle elements of the plot may seem conventional, but it's the story of the work itself that stays with you. The quiet pride of Postlethwaite's foreman character as he balances his workers' safety with their need to get the black-market job done quickly sets the stage for a working-class conflict that's prosaic but rarely portrayed.
by Brian J. Dillard review