Raining Stones, 1993.
Directed by Ken Loach.
Starring Bruce Jones, Ricky Tomlinson and Julie Brown.
Bob Williams (Bruce Jones) is an honest grafter stuck on the dole, constantly trying to grab hold of any bit of work that comes his way. When Bob refuses to accept second best for his daughter’s Holy Communion, he becomes in danger of losing more than his pride.
Raining Stones follows the paths of Bob Williams (Bruce Jones) and Tommy (Ricky Tomlinson) in their never-ending search to put bread on the table and keep their heads above water. Signing on and jumping from one piece of cash-in-hand work to the other, Bob and Tom are struggling to make ends meet. Regardless of this they are honest, cheerful people who try to make the best of what they’ve got and see the funny side of life, even though for Bob and Tom it tends to involve the muckiest of tasks. The film opens with Bob and Tom trespassing on someone’s land trying to catch a sheep, humorously struggling to do so. They return to Manchester with a solitary sheep for their troubles. The local butcher agrees to kill the sheep and chop it up for them if Bob agrees to install his brand new fireplace. This tit-for-tat agreement is a testament to the manner in which this deprived community survives in troubled times. The theme of communities pulling together is a subject area which Loach often explores.
When Bob’s van is stolen just before his daughter Coleen’s Holy Communion, he loses out on two days scaffolding work and some much needed cash. In spite of this, Bob will only have the best for his daughter no matter the cost. Bob’s determination is exemplary of another strong undercurrent in the film, working class pride. Despite being on the dole Bob gets up every morning searching for work to provide for his family. No matter how bad things get Bob always has a strong sense of dignity and refuses to accept the new age of casual drug use and broken family values that has crept up on him. Although Raining Stones is set in the early 90’s these aspects of social decline remain relevant in today’s society.
Raining Stones is kitchen sink realism at its very best, another beautifully executed representation of the northern working class society by Ken Loach. A device which makes Loach’s films so engaging is the manner in which he creates a sense of realism for every character in the film, even if they are only on screen for a second. When Bob is waiting at the dole office we briefly hear the troubles of a single mother and the rundown apartment she is bringing up her children in. On every occasion where Loach includes these subtleties they are effortlessly naturalistic, adding to the collective feeling that the whole community is suffering together without trying to force their way into the plot. Characteristically of films which contain strong connotations of northern working class pride, community and determination, there is a clear sense of anti-Conservatism in Raining Stones. Among the occasional Bureaucratic jibes, a comical scene where Bob and Tom do a job for a dodgy landscaper stealing turf right off the lawn of a Conservative social club denotes a small victory for the working class over the establishment.
An often overlooked creation in the long list of Loach’s social masterpieces, Raining Stones is a rough diamond of a film.