The story of Stevie, a construction worker, and his girlfriend, an unemployed pop singer, serves to show the living conditions of the British poor class. (IMDb)
It follows Stevie, played by Robert Carlyle, a Glaswegian recently released from prison who has moved to London and got a job on a building site turning old houses into luxury apartments. (Wikipedia)
Cannes Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize
Special Prix Italia
Emer McCourt Ricky Tomlinson Jim Coleman
Probably Ken Loach's most influential film in terms of current Britfilms was Riff-Raff, a bawdy, polemical study of casual laborers on a London building site-
-not only for its mix of working-class realism, anger, and subversive humor, but for furthering the acting careers of two stalwarts of the present scene,
Robert Carlyle and Ricky Tomlinson. (Film Comment)
Though ensemble in nature for its first third or so, Riff-Raff eventually settles primarily into the story of Stevie (Robert Carlyle) and Susan (Emer McCourt). Carlyle and McCourt are very good, and there are a number of minor players who have some nice moments. Deseret News
The hero, a former thief (Robert Carlyle), all gaunt cheeks and surly attitude, lands makeshift employment at a condo conversion site and hooks up with a cute but frightfully needy amateur singer (Emer McCourt). EW Online
Loach concentrates on a young worker named Stevie (Robert Carlyle), whose wants are amazingly slight: a job, a place to work, some security, some respect. Not in this life, Stevie. Stephen Hunter
Riff-Raff has its rare shortcomings--most notably the melodramatic spats between Stevie and Susan (her failing, not his). But it's constantly engrossing, a fascinating hybrid of charm, despair and surprise. D. Howe, Washington Post
Although it has the feel of an ensemble piece, the film focuses on Stevie (Robert Carlyle), a Scottish ex-con who is befriended by Larry (Ricky Tomlinson), an outspoken advocate of workers' rights and the film's social conscience. Rita Kempley, Washington Post
Simon Beaufoy, the author of The Full Monty had the following to say: "One thing that both films have in common is the presence of Robert Carlyle. Although in Riff-Raff, his first really big screen role- he is much younger, you can still see the intensity, the utter seriousness of intent that characterizes his performances."
Riff-Raff Facts. Despite its awards and warm critical reception, Riff-Raff never received wide distribution in the UK or elsewhere. It is now considered one of director Ken Loach's finest films, and one of his few comedies. Because Loach frequently used non-actors in his films, Robert Carlyle had trouble convincing people he was a serious actor after Riff-Raff and he did not work again for over a year.