My Name Is Joe (1998)

Peter Mullan won the best actor award at Cannes for his portrayal of a recovering alcoholic in Ken Loach’s uncompromising drama.

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Introduction

“A passionate, compassionate and magnificently acted film with a hard, unsentimental and positive core.”
Philip French, The Observer, 1998

My Name Is Joe was the second film in a fruitful collaboration between director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty. The title echoes the admission with which Glaswegian Joe Kavanagh (Peter Mullan) begins each Alcoholics Anonymous meeting: “My name is Joe, and I’m an alcoholic.” Joe embarks on a romantic relationship with health worker Sarah (Louise Goodall), but his sobriety, and indeed his life, are jeopardised by social and economic factors beyond his control.

This lean, blunt film is as political as anything in Loach’s career, though it also has a sense of urgency that makes it effective as a thriller. The high point is Mullan’s full-blooded performance, which won him Best Actor award at Cannes in 1998.

Peter Mullan has since established his reputation as a director in his own right, his tough but lyrical films including Orphans (1998), The Magdalene Sisters (2002) and Neds (2010).

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