Review: Carla’s Song
Blu-ray: Carla’s Song (1996)
Set in 1987, Carla’s Song tells the story of the love affair between Glaswegian bus driver George Lennox (Robert Carlyle) and Carla (Oyanka Cabezas), a beautiful, homeless, Nicaraguan refugee living in Glasgow.
This is a film of two halves. The first part takes place in Glasgow where George meets Carla, follows her and she ends up living in his mate’s flat. She (annoyingly) won’t tell him anything about her past and he becomes somewhat obsessed with her. It’s never clear that they have a sexual relationship as she is still troubled by her last love Antonio who is still in Nicaragua.
George finds Carla in the bath surrounded by letters written by Antonio, she has slit her wrists and on taking her to the hospital he finds out that she attempted suicide six weeks ago. He decides she must confront her past and buys two tickets back to her homeland.
It’s here that the story shifts. The warmth of Carlyle’s performance becomes eclipsed by the actual war in Nicaragua.
George learns from Bradley (Scott Glen) about how the Contra’s are funded by the CIA against the Sandinista’s and he also knows something about Antonio.
I have to admit that by this point the film had lost me. What was a gentle love story suddenly turned into a confusing 101 on the war in Nicaragua. At one point Carla is holding a baby and tells George it’s HER baby! The ‘big secret’ is a complete let-down too.
Ken Loach excels at UK stories, grass roots, working class stories and the first half of this film is full of promise, only to gallop along and become incomprehensible as soon as they leave these shores.
- High Definition remaster
- Original stereo audio
- Audio commentary with director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty (2005)
- An Extraordinary Thing (2021, 18 mins): producer Sally Hibbin recalls the challenges of filming in Nicaragua
- Two Worlds Collide (2021, 9 mins): editor Jonathan Morris discusses working on an ambitious, international scale
- Tuning in to Nicaragua (2021, 10 mins): composer George Fenton details his approach to scoring the film
- Background to the Art (2021, 14 mins): art director Fergus Clegg on recreating the late-eighties setting of Carla’s Song
- Sounds of Music (2021, 10 mins): sound recordist Ray Beckett discusses the technical aspects of Loach’s documentary style of filmmaking
- Keeping Up Appearances (2021, 10 mins): script supervisor Susanna Lenton relates the complexities of shooting the film in sequence
- Ten deleted scenes (12 mins)
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: publicity and promotional material
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Michael Pattison, Paul Laverty on Carla’s Song, an account of screening the film in Nicaragua, Ken Loach on recutting the film, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.