Film Review: Life in a Northern Town

THE ARBOR (on DVD; Strand Releasing)


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A penetrating look at life in Northern England’s housing projects, The Arbor takes its name from Andrea Dunbar’s 1980 play about her working-class travails. But the film focuses more on the plight of Dunbar’s half-Pakistani eldest daughter, Lorraine, whose struggles make Dunbar’s seem downright peachy. To tell their dual stories of drug abuse and domestic violence, interviews with Lorraine and Dunbar’s extended family are delivered by actors. The result is an artful and resonant picture of urban blight and feminine anguish, every bit as powerful as Dunbar’s own kitchen-sink fatalism.


cover-167-thumbHave something to say? Send a letter to This article first appeared in the September-October 2011 issue of Utne Reader.