Ladybird, Ladybird (film)

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Ladybird, Ladybird
Directed by Ken Loach
Produced by Sally Hibbin
Written by Rona Munro
Starring Crissy Rock
Vladimir Vega
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Barry Ackroyd
Edited by Jonathan Morris
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date(s) 16 June 1994
Running time 101 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Ladybird, Ladybird is a 1994 British drama film directed by Ken Loach.

It is a drama-documentary about a British woman's dispute with Social Services over the care and custody of her four children. The title comes from a traditional nursery verse. Crissy Rock won the Silver Bear for Best Actress award at the 44th Berlin International Film Festival.[1]

The film holds a positive rating of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes.


The film opens in a karaoke bar with people singing to different levels of ability. The camera then focuses on Maggie, the female lead character. She impresses the audience with a beautiful and emotive rendition of 'The Rose.' A man then tells Maggie that her voice is beautiful. He seems eager to engage her in a conversation. Maggie agrees to have one drink with him. He reveals that his name is Jorge and he says that he is from 'far away.' He observes that Maggie's song sounded sad and offers to help her. Maggie is doubtful that Jorge would be able to help. She reveals that she has four children, but Social Services has them. Jorge attempts to flatter her by telling her that she 'must have been a pretty girl.'

Through a flashback, the audience learns the horrendous abuse to which Maggie's mother was subject at the hands of her father. Maggie is very worried about her children and wants to get them back. She has four children from four different fathers. Maggie leaves the bar with her friends. Jorge realises that Maggie has left her wallet behind and he chases after her. He sees her board a London Night Bus, which he chases and then stops the bus by running in front of it. Thankfully, the driver is able to stop in time and in the next shot, Jorge and Maggie learn more about one another at a restaurant. Jorge then recites a poem, which Maggie thinks is lovely. Jorge and Maggie arrive at Jorge's place, after running to his place under an umbrella as it is raining heavily. Maggie tells him that she will have only one coffee and then leave. Maggie expresses curiosity at the photographs which Jorge has displayed throughout his flat.

Maggie explains that she used to have a fellow who 'chatted her up' at the supermarket. A flash-back reveals how they met. The audience learns that he was extremely abusive towards her. He screams at her and punches her for being two hours late. Her children witness the scene with horror. Maggie was in the hospital for two or three days as a result of the incident. Maggie then attends a woman's refuge with all of her children. She attempts to be optimistic by saying that she thought that the refuge was going to be terrible.

Jorge and Maggie share a kiss, then Maggie pulls away and says that she should not be there. Maggie then beats her head on a door, bursts into tears and asks to be left alone. Jorge tells her that he thinks that she is in too much pain. A very emotional Maggie states emphatically that she wants her children back.

The next shot flashes back to when Maggie is singing at the karaoke bar and the barman receives a telephone call.The barman tells Maggie that there is trouble at her home and that she had 'better get back quick.' There has been a fire at the refuge and a hysterical Maggie wants to know what happened to her children. The police take her to the hospital. One of the children, Shaun, has been badly burned and when she sees him, she can barely speak as she is so shocked by the extent of his injuries. She is then interviewed by the police, who take a dim view of her actions and question her about to whom she gave the keys. She says that she knows that she should not have left her children alone. She explains that she was not locking the kids in, but keeping the other kids out of the room. Maggie then visits the home were Shaun is being fostered temporarily. She expresses her concern over the drawings that Shaun has created, which depict raging fires in which Shaun is trapped in the middle. Shaun is happy to see his mum and Maggie tells him how much she has missed him. She attempts to care for Shaun's wounds, but becomes upset when Shaun cries out in pain.

In the next scene, Jorge comforts Maggie. They kiss and cuddle in bed. The next shot shows what transpired after Maggie's visit with Shaun and his carer. During a meeting between Maggie and social services, she accuses them of trying to turn her son against her. She tells them to leave her alone and to give her son back to her. She is told by social services that if Maggie does not co-operate, then all of her children will be taken into Foster care. With her three children in tow, Maggie returns to her home, where she sees Simon (her husband) who tells her that he has missed her. The next day, Maggie and Simon leave in a van. A Social Services worker sees this and warns Maggie that she could lose all of her children forever. Simon tells the worker that they are only going shopping. Maggie and Simon then get into an argument. Simon stops the van and grabs her around the throat. He throws her on the ground and then she sobs helplessly.

The next shot returns to Jorge and Maggie. She tells Jorge that that is the last time that she ever saw her children. Jorge is convinced that she will get her children back. He offers Maggie cake and coffee, which she accepts. Jorge tells Maggie about his family, some of whom have been killed. He reveals that if he returns to his country, it is likely that he will be killed as well. One of the pictures that Jorge has in his flat is of Jorge and his wife. Maggie is surprised at this. Jorge says that, 'You have to love something, otherwise you will be empty.' He wants himself and Maggie to be close because they understand one another.

Maggie attends court and her barrister feels that Maggie is competent to take care of the children. The hearing does not go in Maggie's favour. They go back to Jorge's place and he speaks kindly to her and encourages her to eat. He then reveals that his visa expired that week and if he stays, he will be an illegal immigrant. Jorge tells Maggie that he loves her and wants to help her. Maggie feels that love is for fairy tales and that she is 'not worth it.'

Maggie becomes pregnant with Jorge's baby. They attend an ultrasound together. After coming back from the doctor, Jorge tries to help a neighbour by giving her dog back. The neighbour is less than grateful. She is rude and tells Jorge to go away. Maggie describes their new place as being a palace and 'big enough for a family.' Jorge gets a job at a fast food place, Southern Chicken. When he reveals that he does not have any papers, it is agreed that he will be paid £2/ hour. When Jorge comes home, Maggie is upset because Shaun has appeared in the classified section of the newspaper. The article states that they are searching for adoptive parents for him. An ugly scene then transpires between Jorge and the neighbour who was mean to him on a previous occasion. The neighbour dumps a bucket of water on the local children. Jorge retaliates by dousing her with a garden hose.

That night, Maggie smokes in bed. Jorge is worried that she will set the bed on fire and/or harm the baby. Maggie then goes into labour. Jorge is by her side and provides an outstanding level of support. She gives birth to a girl. A health worker attempts to contact Maggie to see the baby. Maggie states that she is 'coping fine.' Maggie responds with hostility to the worker's onslaught of questions. After the worker leaves, Maggie checks on Jorge, who was hiding in the cupboard throughout the duration of Maggie's 'interrogation' by the health worker. Maggie then observes her rude neighbour speaking to someone outside her flat.

Police officers and a social worker enter Maggie's flat and say that they have an order to remove the baby. Maggie thinks that a mistake has been made. Maggie is beyond distraught and the police attempt to remedy this situation by telling her to calm down. Maggie's friends notify Jorge, who leaves work immediately upon hearing the news. A social worker visits Maggie and Jorge who ask questions about their relationship. Maggie eventually blows up at her as she finds the questions tiresome and feels that she is not being helped. Jorge attempts to pacify Maggie. She then reveals that her father sexually abused her, and social services did little to assist her.

At a court hearing, Maggie's vindictive neighbour Pamela gives evidence that Maggie and Jorge's relationship is a violent one. Maggie becomes angry and the Judge states that her behaviour will not be tolerated in the court. When Jorge is cross-examined in the witness box, he says that his home country is Paraguay and he cannot go back there. When the question is put to him of whether or not he has a wife in Paraguay, he states that he does not know. Upon leaving the courtroom, he is served with a notice of Intention to Initiate Deportation Proceedings. The Judge then gives his judgement when Maggie and Jorge return to court. The Judge feels that the evidence suggests that the mother is of low intellect and that Maggie has put her children at risk of violence. He is also critical of her because she refuses to seek help from others. He has no confidence that she will ever change. His judgement is that the children are to be fostered with a view to being adopted and cannot be contacted by either one of the Defendants.

Jorge then returns home. He shows his passport to Maggie and tells her that the Judge defined him as 'a man of good character' and he will not be deported. Maggie questions him as to why he wants to stay. She feels that Jorge will want to leave at some point and he might as well leave now as opposed to later. Maggie hurls objects at him and screams for him to get out of the flat. It is then revealed that Maggie is pregnant once again and she is desperate for herself and Jorge to have a family. Once again, Maggie has her baby and Jorge is at her side providing support. Maggie is reluctant to push because she wants the baby to stay with her. She has a little girl. In the next heart-wrenching scene, Maggie cuddles her baby girl. Jorge reveals that people from the Social Service would like to talk to them. A nurse takes the baby saying that she wants to check its temperature. Social Services attend the hospital room and they reveal that they will have to take the baby. A horrible scene ensues whereby Maggie becomes violently hysterical as her newborn baby is taken away from her. She is held down by Jorge and the police whilst a doctor sedates her.

Domestic relations between Jorge and Maggie suffer as Maggie takes out her frustrations on him. She feels that he should have been more proactive in stopping the Social Services officers from taking their baby, and is particularly angry that he helped hold her down. Enraged, she yells: 'No wonder your wife left you!' revealing how frustrated she is with his level of compliance, and proceeds to attack him. Jorge states that he just wants to die because he has been robbed of his two daughters. Jorge and Maggie then touch hands, each realising how hopeless and tragic their situation is.

The following information is conveyed on the screen:

'Maggie and Jorge have had three more children whom they have been allowed to keep. They have been given no access to their first two daughters. Maggie says that she thinks every day of all her lost children.'



  1. ^ "Berlinale: 1994 Prize Winners". Retrieved 15 June 2011. 

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