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Ken Loach's work has been marked over the 30-odd years of his career by a sensi­tive if uncompromising eye. He has turned his gaze on social injustice in no uncommon terms and has broken bread with the working class, who he feels are the poor forgotten victims of modern society. Who can forget the wistful dreams of childhood evoked by a poor boy's love for a hawk in Kes, or the fatalistic slide into madness detailed in Family Life? Loach portrays these people with love while avoiding sentimentality. His new film is a sheer delight from beginning to end, sparkling with life, wit and humour, while making its points with the acerbic bite we expect from this rigorous social commentator.

Playing at times like a Keystone Cops comedy where Buster Keaton just happens to wander in for a gag or two, Riff-Raff follows the off-colour adventures of a young Glaswegian who gets a job on a construction site where they're converting a closed down hospital into luxury apartments. Stevie's fellow workers are a mixed assortment of Liverpudlians, Geordies and West Indians, never short of a good line or two, all of them working on a site where every rule in the book seems to have been forgotten. Meanwhile, Stevie falls for and moves in with Susan, a young Irish singer he meets in a pub. But the shenanigans of the first half of the film give way to a more sombre tone as Stevie discovers Susan's drug habit, and the errant responsibilities of the building site lead to tragedy. Loach details the sad but irrepressible life of his protagonists with a mix of tender satire and bitter outrage, in the process producing one of the best films of his illustrious