This is a very difficult film to watch not only because you know it ends in tragedy – the film starts with the desperate events of 5 February 2004 – but because of its documentary-style immediacy. It’s not difficult to feel you are seeing those people (as if as ghosts) before they died. Writer-director Nick Broomfield’s documentaries are normally infused with postmodern cynicism; here he tells the story directly. The performers are non-professionals and Broomfield is adept at using their gaucheness as a signifier of authenticity. The film’s bookended by the events at Morecambe Bay with the middle section following one character’s journey from her home in China to cockling in Morecambe.
This is cinema at its powerful best. Truth-telling 24 frames a second (as Godard defined it). The ‘background’ noise of exploitation engendered by globalisation is ‘turned up’ into our face (if only for 90 minutes).