Original Release: May 14, 1991 (Cannes Film Festival)
Directed by: Ken Loach
Written by: Bill Jesse
Produced by: Sally Hibbin
Running Time: 95 minutes
Box Office: $295,444 (US)
Stevie (Robert Carlyle), a young Glaswegian just out of Barlinnie prison, comes down to London and gets a job on a building site -- a melting pot of itinerant labourers from all over the country -- where he has to contend with Mick the bossy ganger trying but usually failing to control his workers; three hilarious scousers, Shem, Mo and Larry (Ricky Tomlinson); and the other lads as they duck and dive through the rules and regulations of the building trade. In addition, Stevie has other problems to contend with: the wages are low, the site teems with rats, he has nowhere to sleep, and life in London isn't easy.
One day on his way to work, Stevie finds a handbag in a skip. He returns it to its owner, Susan, a no-talent singer plagued by depression and neediness. As Stevie and Susan learn to live with the ups and downs of life on the edge, Riff-Raff builds a portrait, often funny, of life as it is lived in the margins.
Emer McCourt (Susan), Ricky Tomlinson (Larry), Jimmy Coleman (Shem), George Moss (Mo), Ade Sapara (Fiaman), Derek Young (Desmonde), Peter Mullan (Jake)
- Deaconess Court, Tottenham Green East, Tottenham, London, England, UK
- Saint Mary-le-Strand Church, Strand, London, England, UK
- Twyford House, Chisley Road, South Tottenham, London, England, UK
- The accents of the characters was so heavy that the film provided subtitles, even for British audiences.
- Robert Carlyle stated it was difficult for him to do this movie because the director, Ken Loach, doesn't give the actors scripts so they don't know what the movie is going to be about.
- Robert Carlyle stated that he went through about six or seven improvised auditions in order to get this role and it was the longest process he has ever went through to get any role.
Susan: Do you ever get depressed?
Steve: No, depressions are for the middle classes, the rest of us have got an early start in the morning.
Steve: I'm into merchandising myself.
Steve: Aye, boxer shorts, colored socks, things like that... that's where I'm heading.
Steve: This laboring, it's only temporary... Laboring, crap, boxer shorts... good.
Cannes Film Festival as FIPRESCI Prize
European Film Award as European Film of the Year
Prix Italia Award as Best Fiction Film
BAFTA Awards Scotland as Best Actor - Robert Carlyle
European Film Award as European Supporting Actor of the Year - Ricky Tomlinson
Goya Award as Best European Film
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists