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British Film Culture - Essay Example

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The British film industry receives a lot of flack, some of it well earned, but one of its virtues is a willingness to engage with the 'real world'. Of course, not many people see the films that do this, but the numbers are sufficient to imbue British film culture with a sense of engagement…
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British Film Culture
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British Film Culture

Download file to see previous pages... Rife with nudging and guffawing, Peter Cattaneo 's film about steelworkers turned male strippers is somehow less raunchy, but every bit as jolly and as irreducibly English, as a Donald McGill seaside postcard. Populated by awkward, well-meaning lads who don't have it in them to behave too badly, its Sheffield is apparently the one part of Britain that Loaded never reached.
What The Full Monty is, though, is political, in the gentlest, Ealing-comedy way. It starts with a brassy, breathlessly chipper documentary clip, a spot-on parody of the old Pathe Films. The men have nothing much else to occupy them, and Gaz is likely to lose touch with his young son unless he can pay his debts. Then they see some women queuing to see a troupe of male strippers. Gaz, realising there's only one way left for a man to make a fast buck, assembles a rival crew - not so much beefcake as meatloaf and scrag end.
Unemployed Northern men trying anything to scrape a living and uphold their dignity sure enough, The Full Monty pays its respects to Ken Loach. There's a cameo by Bruce Jones from Loach's Raining Stones, as a hapless auditioner gauchely attempting to peel off his anorak. But this is light Loach and with a more focused comic touch.
What makes the story compelling is that there's more at stake than just the few bob and laughs the lads stand to make. It's dignity they hope to regain, and more fundamentally, masculinity. Fatigued and disenfranchised, they all wonder if they're still men. Dave worries about losing his wife (Lesley Sharp), Gaz is already divorced, and their suicidal pal Lomper (Steve Huison) is living a dreary celibate life.

Meanwhile, Sheffield's women are still in work and ruling the roost. They've even taken over the working men's club for women-only nights. A mortified Gaz sneaks behind enemy lines to witness the ultimate horror - women not only invading the sanctity of the Gents, but pissing standing up. The vision persuades him there's only one way for men to retaliate - reclaim their widgers. The Full Monty could have been made as course material for film-studies seminars on Marxism and the Phallus. Cattaneo and Beaufoy could have gone for a harsher lampooning of male sexual attitudes, but their approach yields subtler, more tender returns. Their heroes are adolescents who don't understand women but wish they did, and eventually are only too happy to confess their inadequacies.

The presence of women in the film seems a little cursory, largely restricted to Lesley Sharp, Emily Woof, a few mouthy passers-by, and the crowds of the club scenes. But that's because the men see women from the outside - through the toilet window, as it were. Excluded from the female world of adulthood, they form their own society, a Just William club of eternal schoolboys with Gaz's young son Nathan (the engagingly sour-faced William Shape) tagging along as disapproving chaperon.

This is something you rarely see a film on camaraderie among straight men (mostly), that doesn't indulge in slobbishness or Californian hugs, but celebrates the virtues of solidarity. Widgers United. The joke is that the men aren't really learning a new skill that will alter their lives. The Full Monty feels celebratory because it isn't about ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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