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Pressure (1975)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Tony, the English-born son of immigrants from Trinidad, tries to find work. He has left school after successfully taking his 'O' levels, and having been one of the bright boys of his class. Yet he fails in all his attempts to find decent employment suitable for his qualifications. Only the lowest paid jobs are open to him.

He is pressurised from all sides; his parents harass him about his failure to find a job when they have sacrificed everything to give him an English education. (His father, an accountant in Trinidad, is now keeping a grocery store in Ladbroke Grove, having worked initially as a labourer.) His brother, Colin, born in Trinidad, aggressively maintains his black identity and criticises Tony for his adherence to white values and habits: bacon and eggs, fish and chips, Gary Glitter and white friends.

Tony's disillusionment grows steadily and his difficulty in getting a job increasingly estranges him from his white friends on whom he is forced to be financially dependent. Unable, however, to identify with his brother's black power politics, Tony drifts into the company of other young blacks who, like him, are unemployed. They wander aimlessly about the streets, pickpocketing, smoking joints -hoping to escape from their desperate circumstances.

It is only after a near escape from arrest after a shoplifting incident in which Tony unwittingly becomes involved, that he finally goes to one of his brother's political meetings. The meeting is raided by the police on the pretext of searching for drugs and after violent scenes, Colin and Tony are arrested.

After Tony has been interrogated, he returns home to find the police have been there before him; the house has been wrecked. Amidst his parents' accusations and recriminations, Tony finally confronts them, challenging their conformism to the laws of a society which despises and degrades them.

Tony becomes involved with the group protesting at the police brutality. He too is fighting the distortions and misrepresentations surrounding the event, but he still cannot identify with the political solution offered by the group with which he is working; his own particular experience as English-born, Westernised in many ways, yet still discriminated against, must involve a different solution.

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