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Raining Stones (1993)

Courtesy of Channel Four Television

Main image of Raining Stones (1993)
DirectorKen Loach
Production CompaniesParallax Pictures
 Film Four International
ProducerSally Hibbin
ScriptJim Allen
PhotographyBarry Ackroyd
MusicStewart Copeland

Cast: Bruce Jones (Bob), Julie Brown (Anne), Gemma Phoenix (Coleen), Ricky Tomlinson (Tommy), Tom Hickey (Father Barry), Mike Fallon (Jimmy)

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On a Manchester council estate, Bob, an unemployed family man, attempts to raise money to buy a communion dress for his young daughter.

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Raining Stones (d. Ken Loach, 1993) follows a conventional Hollywood plot structure, charting the obstacles its main character faces in his attempts to achieve a difficult aim. The key difference is that Bob's (Bruce Jones) quest is shown in the context of his social and economic circumstances and those of the wider community. For example, the a loan shark's henchmen are recurring figures, whose encounters with other minor characters illustrate the harsh and often violent consequences for the community of the prevalence of debt.

Loach's political views are less explicitly expressed here than in much of his other work. The most overtly political character is Jimmy (Mike Fallon), Bob's father-in-law, whose views are given weight by the reference to the film's title in his assertion that "When you're a worker it rains stones seven days a week."

The most direct political comment occurs when Bob and Jimmy see the teenagers arguing outside the Tenants' Association. Jimmy highlights their deprivation: all they have, he says, is "crime, booze, drugs, apart from a few who slip through the net." He feels that religion is a distraction "instead of us getting together and turning around to make the changes. That's it in a nutshell. The rest's just bleeding propaganda." These are probably the sentiments that come closest to expressing Loach's own distrust of the capitalist system.

However, the film demonstrates an ambivalent view of religion. More screen time is given to the sympathetic character of Father Barry (Tom Hickey) than to Jimmy. The priest also plays a vital role in the culmination of the plot when Bob comes to him at his moment of crisis following the death of Tansey (Jonathan James). The priest condemns the social forces that result in hardship and debt for families like Bob's, and acts decisively in burning Tansey's debt book and advising Bob against going to the police. His actions counterbalance Jimmy's view and demonstrate that religion can support communities towards improving their lives.

As with most of his later films, Loach made much use of improvisation during filming. The actors were given the outline of the story and a few pages of script a day. The resulting improvisation was filmed, but was later edited out until only the scripted dialogue remained.

Ros Cranston

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Video Clips
1. Sheep rustlers (3:54)
2. Bob the plumber (3:50)
3. The loanshark (4:07)
Production stills
Ackroyd, Barry (1954-)
Allen, Jim (1926-99)
Hibbin, Sally (1953-)
Loach, Ken (1936-)
Morris, Jonathan (1949-)
Tomlinson, Ricky (1939-)
Channel 4 Films/Film on Four/FilmFour
Ken Loach: Feature Films
Social Realism