date festival


Ken Loach

Family Life

Ken Loach
1971 - United Kingdom - 1h48

Screenings : monday 22 - 10:45 am - Pathé - 8 wednesday 24 - 10:00 am - Pathé - 8
In the grey suburbs of a British town, a ‘normal' family is slowly falling apart. Janice Baildon, the family's youngest child, is under constant pressure from her parents, and hides herself away in behaviours that are qualified as strange. Janice's distraught parents are convinced that their daughter's withdrawn and curious character is due to mental problems, and decide to place her in a psychiatric institution...
Family Life, Ken Loach's third film since making the transition from television to cinema, had a profound effect on Cannes when it was screened in 1972. Firstly, the film illustrates the theories of anti-psychiatry, which aimed to break with traditional psychiatry by paying greater attention to the social factors of “mental illness”. In short, listening and dialogue versus tranquillisers and electric shocks. R. D. Laing, one of the leading proponents of this school of thought, was involved in the making of the film and, before that, the play it is based on. But this ‘thesis film' aspect is not necessarily the main interest of Family Life, which is first and foremost Ken Loach's ‘Families, I hate you', the story of a young girl who simply cannot exist, stifled by parents who only want what's best for her, meaning for her to live just like them.

“On the face of it, the use of amateur or little-known actors, real schizophrenics and a real doctor, would suggest that
Family Life is an illustration of the good old theory of cinema as recording. But there's more than that. The alternation between scenes in the hospital and in the family actually breaks the linearity of the narrative, which happily mixes the present with the ‘how did we get here?' This only reinforces the impression that, in the end, all is already lost, that the trap is inexorably closing.

“All that's left is to look at one scene, a last spark of life before the fire finally goes out for good. Janice and her friend Tim decide to paint her parents' garden blue. From the sadly monochrome garden gnomes to the trees, nothing escapes them, before Tim and Janice chase each other around, still armed with their cans of paint. When Janice's father returns, he rushes to her room in outrage. When he doesn't understand, she bursts out laughing. Failing screaming, we laugh too.” (Erwan Higuinen;

Cast : Sandy Ratcliff, Bill Dean, Grace Cave, Malcolm Tierney, Hilary Martyn
Screenplay : David Mercer
Cinematography : Charles Stewart
Editing : Roy Watts
Music : Marc Wilkinson

Production : EMI Films, Kestrel Films

French distributor : Tamasa Distribution