Urban Cinefile
"David Puttnam asked me to write this and gave me $5000 to do so, and I was frightened by it. I delayed and delayed for about a year, and Puttnam got pissed off and went away, and then I wrote it"  -Bob Ellis, on the birth of his script, The Nostradamus Kid
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday August 14, 2019 

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Carla’s Song is a love story with a political background - a film about a journey that begins on a Glasgow bus and ends in Nicaragua amid the gunfire and explosions of war. It is the story of the relationship between George (Carlyle), a free-spirited Scottish bus driver, and Carla (Cabezas), a refugee from Nicaragua who is adrift in Glasgow, in 1987. It begins when George goes to the aid of Carla who is being harrassed by a ticket inspector on Geroge’s bus, and continues as the reluctant Carla beguiles George and their relationship begins to take root. But Carla’s mystery hides horrendous physical and psychological wounds. As George takes her under his wing, he realises she needs to return to the place of her haunted memories: Nicaragua. This despite the possibility that he’ll lose her to her former lover, Antonio. Back home, Carla does face up to her past, and so does George.

"We hardly see her face at first, hidden under her generous, curly black hair, and avoiding eye contact, seeking privacy, offering only mystery, and one that seems infused with suffering. But gradually, Carla’s face becomes more familiar as we become more informed about her past, her secret anguish and the destructive force of the Nicaraguan conflict in the 80s. The remarkable achievement in this film is that Loach and writer Paul Laverty tell the story through the specific experiences of the individual characters, avoiding a history lesson. But make no mistake, the editorial is in there all right, and pretty forcibly as poured out in a venomous, self loathing little monologue by Scott Glenn’s character, Bradley, the ex CIA man now working to assuage his guilt. The Glasgow sequences that introduce us to the central characters are lengthy but necessarily so, and work effectively to dramatise the enormous journey that George, Carla - and the audience - travels. Emotional and political, it is a film that will have greatest impact on those who have some personal experience of the subject matter, but is plenty powerful enough for those who are lucky enough never to have known anything like it in real life."
Andrew L. Urban

"Ken Loach has made an extraordinary film, canvassing the human condition in extreme circumstances. The amazing contrast of cultures and experiences is a rare treat, as we travel the road (figuratively and literally), with two special human beings: George and Carla. The collision of these two cultures culminates in a warm, emotional film that touches on loyalty, morality, humanity and compassion. From red double decker buses in picturesque Scotland to buses of a different kind surrounded by the pulsating rhythms and colours of war-torn Nicaragua, we discover the shocking cause for Carla’s torment. Carla’s Song is ultimately about belonging, and through George and Carla we journey in order to understand, realise and accept our limitations and our own culture. Robert Carlyle as George, gives a warm, complex performance as the ordinary bus driver from Glasgow. He shows great vulnerability and underlying strength in his journey from his familiar territory to the battle fields of Nicaragua. Oyanka Cabezas is amazing as Carla. Her exotic looks and mystique are put to good use and her character is fraught with turmoil and vulnerability. Her beautiful voice as she sings Carla’s song towards the end will haunt you in what is perhaps the film’s most memorable scene."
Louise Keller

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CAST: Robert Carlyle, Oyanka Cabezas, Scott Glenn


PRODUCER: Sally Hibben

SCRIPT: Paul Laverty



MUSIC: George Fenton


RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes






International Critics Prize, Cannes 1995;

The Felix - Best European Film, 1995


See Louise Keller's report in Features

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