Rightly or wrongly, British cinema is often thought of by the masses in two main contexts. The first is the period drama. Lofty accents, grand antique sets, rolling countrysides and costumes that appear tight enough to cut off the actors’ air supply. You know the sort. The kind of movie where you can expect to see Kate Winslet breezing through grand rooms wearing a fancy, frilly dress at any given moment.
The second context is the gritty, kitchen-sink, social-realist drama. These movies base themselves on an authentic feel, harking all the way back to the likes of Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in 1960, where realism was always first thing on the filmic agenda.
Whilst the British period drama has in recent years found a stronger voice either on television (Downton Abbey) or in collaboration with American cinema, several British “grit-films” have remained true to their source by filming on British turf, using British actors, and receiving their premiere in British cinemas.
The following five movies have done wonders for the “Grit-Brit” genre and UK cinema in general; and are worth checking out for a grimy, up-close-and-personal cinematic encounter with the gritty British culture of years gone by.