Genre themes
0 They focus on topical issues at the time of
development, although these issues have
changed over time, accounting for their
relevance to the current times and
0 Many social realism films revolve around
contemporary issues such as discrimination
through racism, sexism and homophobia.
0 Often set in a working class location, these
films often include common ‘back-street’
themes such as prostitution, drugs, gang life,
crime and alcoholism.
0 Many social realism are related to political
and sometimes religious views; as most are
set in working class environments, a
common theme is an extreme hatred
towards the conservative party (and for
example, Margaret Thatcher in ‘Brassed Off’.
Genre themes
0 The age or group of the audience depends
on the type of social realism film. For
example, if the film revolves around youth
culture and violence, like ‘Kidulthood’, a
younger audience (15-30 age group) will
be attracted. Meanwhile, a more politically
motivated social realism film would
attract an older audience, like ‘Brassed
0 They usually focus on the relationships
between distinct groups of people. While
this can relate to racism, , these
relationships can also revolve around
families and friendship groups or gangs.
One example is ‘In Our Name’, where the
film concentrates on a group of soldiers
returning from their tours in war-torn
Genre narrative conventions
0 They are characterised as being focused more
on substance over style.
0 They are often non-restricted; in other words,
the audience is omniscient in terms of what
they see on screen. They are able to see the
actions and situations of multiple roles.
0 They usually revolve around the hardships of
a specified group’s life, such as working class
people or immigrants to Britain, like in ‘Dirty
Pretty Things’. Although they often present
these areas negatively, the togetherness found
in the communities is often portrayed,
presenting them in a more positive light.
0 Depending on the type of film, the ending will
vary between a conclusive closed one and an
open one, which may result in a sequel, such
as ‘Adulthood’, following ‘Kidulthood’.
Genre narrative conventions
0 The events that occur in these films usually
represent or replicate real life, hence the
‘realism’ of the film.
0 They are often filmed in a hand-held style, so
appear as if we are following a true series of
events. Again, this suggests that we, as an
audience, are following the real lives of the
characters. This is known as verisimilitude.
0 They are often characterised as being lowlight areas, highlighting or connoting a
hardship people in the area face.
0 They are also characterised by using many
stereotypes about a localised area or
targeted groups of people. Sometimes,
however, they present them in atypical ways,
like in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, were (some of)
the immigrants are portrayed as intelligent
and valuable in society.
Generic Conventions- Case Study
‘Kidulthood’, 2006
0 The audience is able to see the events through the
perspectives of many characters, as over the course of
48 hours, the themes of youth and gang culture,
violence, drugs, sex and teenage pregnancies, bullying
and alcohol are explored in West London.
0 The events are inspired by the contemporary issues
society faces today, particularly in the typically working
class areas of London.
0 The characters all face their own problems, and as an
audience we wish them to get through the difficulties,
however, they are still stereotyped negatively through
the actions they commit.
0 It is filmed in a handheld style, so we feel like we are
following them directly, making the experience seem
more ‘real’.
Generic Conventions- Case Study
‘Dirty Pretty Things’, 2002
0 The film revolves around the hardships faced by a
number of illegal immigrants in London.
Stereotypically, these people are viewed negatively in
society, however their togetherness as a community is
very positive.
0 Atypically, the film shows the immigrants to be
intelligent and appreciated in society, which is not
normally the case.
0 The themes involved, such as crime and prostitution,
although possibly not able to relate to the audience,
speak volumes as we understand the existence of these
‘dark’ areas in society.
0 We follow Senay and Okwe, the immigrants who,
amidst their normal working lives, uncover a crime
leading to the black market. We therefore have an
omniscient view of the events that unfold.
Extended Case Study: ‘Dirty Pretty Things’
0 This social realism film focuses on a male
immigrant who works multiple jobs in London to
earn a living. However, in a shift at the hotel he
works at, he discovers a human heart in a toilet,
and he uncovers a dreadful criminal organisation
operated within the hotel management.
0 Racial segregation seems apparent, as
immigrants seem to not interact with local
people much, but instead mainly interact with
other foreigners.
0 Sexism is also apparent, as men seem more
powerful and dominant in the community, for
example, the Asian man in the factory forces
Senay, the female protagonist to perform sexual
acts with him. However, to adapt to modern
culture, she becomes more powerful in her own
situations, as she resists the man. This could
represent equality in modern day society. The
theme of standing up for what is right is a
regular theme in the narratives of social realism
Extended Case Study: ‘Dirty Pretty Things’
0 Crime, prostitution and the black market are
the main themes in the film, conforming to the
genre as the film is about the ‘darker’ aspects of
society, yet ones which are based on real life.
0 The main protagonist (Okwe), is kind and
protective of Senay, conforming to typical
protagonist attributes, as he stands up for what
is morally right. He is flawed too, however, he is
wrongly accused of murdering his wife in
Nigeria, his home country.
0 As with many social realism films, there is a
shocking ending, where the main criminal is
himself drugged and his kidney is taken for the
black market. Shocks and cliff hangers occur in
other films too, such as ‘Kidulthood’.
0 Atypically, some of the immigrants are
portrayed as intelligent and are valued in
society, whereas stereotypes suggest
immigrants are unintelligent and are not valued
in society.
Generic Conventions- Case Study
‘The Full Monty’, 1997
0 The film follows the hardships experienced by a group
of former miners in Sheffield, as they hunt for jobs and
money. Inspired by a strip-tease act, they make one of
their own in desperation.
0 Although it is a comedy, the audience can relate to the
difficulties they face and the themes, which include
unemployment, fathers’ rights, homosexuality, obesity,
suicide and general working class culture.
0 We follow multiple perspectives as each character takes
their own individual journey to have the courage to not
only take to the stage, but confront other difficulties
0 The ‘Steel City’ is an appropriate setting as it highlights
the difficulties of unemployment and redundancy that
the workforce faced. This issue is one many people can
relate to in the audience, so establishes a sense of
Generic Conventions- comparison
0 The themes involved in the films are related to
issues at the time of production. For example,
‘Kidulthood’ exhibits youth violence and gang
culture has been a big issue in London for the last
decade, while redundancy at mines was a big
issue in the 80s and 90s, when ‘The Full Monty’
was made.
0 While ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ and ‘Kidulthood’ are
set in the gritty, back-street areas of London, ‘The
Full Monty’ is set in Sheffield. However, both are
known working class environments which are
degrading in parts, reflecting the hardship the
characters face.
0 Although some of the narrative ideas may be a
little far-fetched, the audience is able to relate to
the hardship each of the characters face (through
multiple perspectives in each film) to trials in
their own lives.
Character conventions
0 Characters are often portrayed in a
stereotypical way, and the audience,
who are normally similar to the
characters, can relate to them. For
example, ‘Kidulthood’ uses the
stereotypical violent, angry youths that
are present today, mostly in London.
0 The working class activities and the
hardships that the characters face are
often represented as heroic.
0 The characters often display traditional
or old-fashioned views, for example, the
themes and issues of sexism and racism.
A sense of male dominance is also
conveyed to the audience in many social
realism films.
Character conventions
0 The characters, set in usually working
class settings, are often quite aggressive
and violent, although this often comes in
the form of a protective attitude for their
friends or family.
0 Where youths or young people are the
main characters, social realism films
usually include themes of violence, sex,
drugs and crime. Although there are some
films where adults (24 and over) become
involved in these factors, usually, where
an older generation are the main
characters, they revolve around
employment and politics. Both types,
however, focus heavily on relationships.
0 Most of the characters are flawed in some
way, whether they be protagonists or
antagonists in the film.
Character Conventions- Case Study
‘Kidulthood’, 2006
0 Trevor is a ringleader of a small group, but respected by
most people in the school. He is also the father to be of
Alisa’s child. He represents the inner conflict that exists in
these peoples’ lives due to the struggles they face.
0 Alisa is the mother of Trevor’s unborn child, and the girl he
realises he loves. Conflict also exists within her, as she is
continually pressured by her friend Becky.
0 Sam is the villain of the film, a thug who uses violence and
intimidation frequently, while spreading lies about other
characters. He may act in this way due to the absence of a
father figure in his life, to guide him on the right path, as
well as a desire for people to fear him or respect his power.
He later kills Trife as an act of vengeance.
0 Becky shows how easy it is to get what the characters want,
but also shows her to have little or no self-respect. To her,
she will use her body to get what she wants, whether it be
money or drugs. Her promiscuous and flippant attitudes
convey a negative representation.
Character Conventions- Case Study
‘Dirty Pretty Things’, 2002
0 Okwe is the protagonist of the film, he uncovers the secret
crime that is happening in the hotel, and while trying to get
himself and Senay out of the country with passports, has to
protect them from immigration authorities simultaneously.
0 Senay shares the apartment with Okwe, and also has
multiple jobs. She desperately wants to live her dream by
starting a new life in New York, and falls in love with Okwe
due to his protection of her over the course of the film.
0 Guo Yi works at a hospital mortuary, and helps his friend
Okwe as much as possible. He even lets him briefly be
accommodated there as immigration authorities suspect
something is going on in Senay’s apartment. Guo also gives
Okwe with medical supplies for his fellow taxi drivers’ use.
He represents the difficult decisions a person has to make in
life, one which we can all relate to.
0 Juan runs the hotel, and also an underworld crime business,
by offering immigrants stuck in London passports in
exchange for an organ. He represents how deep crime can
go in society.
Character Conventions- Case Study
‘The Full Monty’, 1997
0 Gaz is the ringleader of the group, and initiates the idea of
them performing the full monty. He is separated from his
son’s mother, and has to find a job to pay child support
payments to continue access. His relationship with his son
is strained as he is desperate to earn a living.
0 Dave is obese, and his marriage is strained too, making him
lose confidence in himself, while also being unemployed,
making him desperate enough to become involved with the
0 Gerald is originally a nemesis of Gaz, and the pair twice
nearly come to blows. That is before he himself gets
involved, teaching the crew how to dance. His actions and
eventual employment before the show give the rest of the
group hope for their own welfare and solutions to their
0 Lomper is originally found attempting to commit suicide,
but the group manages to turn his life around with their
friendship. He represents changing attitudes, within himself
and others around him, as he discovers homosexual feelings
between him and Guy.
Character Conventions- Comparisons
0 In each of these films, the characters are
conveyed as working class heroes, despite, in
‘Kidulthood’s case for example, the protagonists
frequently acting violently or anti-socially. In
films like ‘London to Brighton’ however, some of
the characters are working class villains.
0 They all convey a sense of male dominance,
suggesting traditional values still exist,
especially in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, where this
may represent the different cultures of the
0 Character development is key in all of these
social realism films, as the audience is able to
connect with their experiences and difficulties
through the narrative.
0 Each film appears to show at least one person
who does not care about life or how they live it.
Lomper is found attempting to commit suicide
in ‘The Full Monty’, there is a prostitute staying
in a hotel for business in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’,
while Becky in ‘Kidulthood’ performs sexual
favours to obtain drugs.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
‘Kidulthood’, 2006
0 Camerawork
-(Extreme) close ups are used frequently in the
opening title sequence as we see Trife working on
something. His hard work on this ambiguous
object conveys him in a positive way until we
realise it is a gun. Therefore, the audience realises
that no location is safe, and makes all other
characters appear less innocent.
-Close ups are used throughout the film to get the
characters constantly changing emotions across to
the audience. This also establishes the inner
conflict each of them faces.
-Medium, medium long and long shots follow the
action, particularly in the chase sequences and
fights between various characters.
-POV and associated POV shots are also used to
create a further sense of realism to the narrative.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Editing
-A graphic match is used towards the end of
the film as Trife and Alisa are sitting down in
different locations clearly thinking about
each other and the wrongs they have
committed in their lives.
-Shot-reverse-shot is also frequently used to
correspond with the close ups, following the
characters conversations and tracking their
changing emotions depending on the
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Props
The use of a gun in a school conveys the lack of
innocence that young people appear to show. It
represents the fact that nowhere is truly safe from
violence or society’s troubles.
The continuous use of drugs conveys a lack of fear
in youth culture, and a desire to experience
something new. It may also represent the existent
peer pressure put on young people by others to
grow up and mature fast.
0 Lighting
Natural light is used mostly, to convey a sense of
realism to the audience. However, in what appears
to resemble an interrogation, Trevor’s uncle keeps
an acquaintance hostage for punishment in an
attempt to gain justice independently.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Setting
West London is ideal for a film of such dark
themes, as it shows the two sides to the
capital, in terms of social class and different
groups. As well as a central business hub, it
is known nowadays as an increasingly crimeridden area.
0 Costume, figure expression
The stereotypical look of gangsters in
hoodies and tracksuits or jeans is used,
possibly as an attempt to replicate the
unjustified fear of the age group and the look
as well.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
‘Dirty Pretty Things’, 2002
0 Camerawork
-Close ups are used throughout the film to
convey the characters’ emotions to the
audience. Additionally, it is used to convey
shock, for example, when Okwe pulls a heart
from the toilet.
-Medium shots are frequently used to combine
emotions with action throughout the film.
Emotions run high with the problems the
characters face (crime and anxiety from
authorities) while the action is also common.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Editing
-Straight cuts are used mostly to allow the
action to flow, and for the audience to
become fully involved in the film due to the
realism of the themes.
-Shot-reverse-shot also occurs frequently, as
dialogue drives the narrative, therefore
continuous the realism theme.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Props
The use of a heart in the toilet of the hotel
room is symbolic as it represents the fact
that the film is able to take the form of a love
story, with the romance between Senay and
Okwe, and a horror story, due to the crime
being committed.
0 Lighting
Natural lighting is often used, but as much of
the film takes place at night, when crime
typically increases, interior lighting is used. It
is quite bright in the hotel for example, and
represents the realisation of a terrible crime
occurring within its walls.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Setting
Again, the film is set in the backstreets of
London, portraying its ‘underground’ and
crime-ridden culture that lies underneath
the stereotypically beautiful, business filled
0 Costume, figure expression
The main characters, who are all immigrants,
mostly illegal, usually wear respectable
formal clothing, which gives them positive
representation. However, the actions they
commit, such as Guo giving Okwe medical
supplies, makes the audience question the
position of those in charge, those with
authority, much like contemporary issues.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
‘The Full Monty’, 1997
0 Camerawork
-Long shots are frequently used in comedic style to
emphasise the desperation and effort the characters
put in to their routine. The characters are usually in a
line-up in these shots, so the audience can observe
each of their ridiculous moves.
-Close ups are used to convey the intense emotions
that run through each of the characters. Although, it
is a comedy, the film strikes a chord with serious
issues like unemployment and fathers’ rights.
Nonetheless, embarrassment is also often conveyed,
mostly through Gaz’s son.
-POV shots are also used to show the absurdity of
what some of the characters are watching,
particularly for comedic effect, in the job centre
queue for example.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Editing
-Straight cuts are mostly used to continue
the flow of action and replicate the passing
of time and represent the changing
perspectives of the characters for a specific
-Shot-reverse-shot is frequently used to
show the spontaneity of the group’s
comments, they often do not think about
what they say. The technique also
contributes to conveying emotions to the
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Props
The use of the hats at the end, with the
characters throwing them away represents them
throwing away their worries and their troubles.
The football represents the typical working class
culture existent through the decades, whatever
trials people have…there’s always football.
0 Lighting
It is natural lighting mainly, to contribute a sense
of realism, however, the stage is lit up brightly on
both occasions Gaz enters, once where the idea
initiates, and secondly were the group are
earning the money strived so hard to obtain.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study
0 Setting
The setting of Sheffield, the ‘steel city’ is
representative of the redundancies that took
place in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The frequent
closure of mines and quarries across the
country hit workers hard, leaving many
unemployed and struggling to keep their
families afloat financially.
0 Costume, figure expression
The characters are wearing cheap, dirty
casual clothing mainly, representing their
status as working class. Gerald, however,
wears a suit, to deceive his wife suggesting
he is still employed at the steelworks and
making money.
Mise-en-scene: Comparisons
0 Close-ups are iconic of social realism
films, as they allow the audience to see
exactly what the characters are feeling
throughout the events of the narrative.
0 POV shots are frequent in ‘Kidulthood’
and ‘The Full Monty’, but are rarely if at
all used in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. They
are used in ‘Kidulthood’ to establish a
further sense of realism in the
narrative, so express that the difficulties
faced are true in modern society.
0 The main type of cut throughout these
films are straight cuts, to help the action
to flow, and to increase its
0 Conversations to create character
development are key, so shot-reverseshot is a technique used frequently in
each of these films.
Mise-en-scene: Comparisons
0 The settings are all in declining areas of
industrial cities (London and Sheffield).
This helps the audience associate the area
with the context of the themes, so we can
relate it to the issues expressed in the film,
for example, gang culture in London for
‘Kidulthood’ and unemployment in 80s and
90s Sheffield.
0 While the lighting in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ is
mainly dark to give a sense of the ‘backstreet’ events that happen in London, the
mainly daylight hour filming for ‘The Full
Monty’ emphasises the fact that they are
struggling for employment; they should be
working, and not in the situations they find
themselves in. It also highlights the shame;
there is no way to hide from
0 Typical clothing to that specific era and
narrative are used, for example, hoodies
and caps in ‘Kidulthood’ and cheap casual
wear (mainly) in ‘The Full Monty’.