Better Things (Duane Hopkins, 2008) and new British realism | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1474-2756
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0578


This article uses Duane Hopkins's (2008) as a point of entry for a discussion of contemporary British realist cinema. An analysis of the textual and philosophical shifts that have occurred within this mode in the last decade is augmented by close readings of Hopkins's film. In addition, the films of Ken Loach are also utilized as a means of contrast. I argue that the subordination of Loach's aesthetic and formal strategies towards an explicit focus on socio-political themes represents a fundamental and important point of distinction for the new British realist directors. The likes of Hopkins, Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay (amongst others) can be seen to adopt an approach that places a greater emphasis on the poetic potentials of realist imagery at the expense of social-political didacticism; this encourages a closer analysis of the mode on the basis of its aesthetic and formal constitution. To this end, I argue that contemporary British realism can and should be understood alongside other realist movements from across the globe, highlighting the potential for a renewed appraisal of realism outside the narrow confines of national cinema.


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