• Warning: Spoilers
    Mai Zetterling's Scrubbers certainly feels sociologically and humanly scrupulous, examining the fraught community within a female borstal while largely avoiding swaggering stereotypes and easy titillation. The recurring use of bawdy folk-type songs is just one suggestion that for all its forced unnaturalness, the world that the inmates craft for themselves may preserve English community and culture more fully than what lies outside - by comparison the portrayal of the staff is mostly clipped and sparing and deliberately disconnected. Zetterling seems most artistically stimulated by the environment's inherent abstraction, triggering the film's most unexpected impact, its outbursts of visionary Kubrick-like strangeness. That would be both Kubrick past (a dispossessed mother's dreams of her kid might almost have slotted into The Shining) and even - relative to the film's 1982 release date - Kubrick future: the prison might well share a designer and all-seeing cinema-eye with the dorms of Full Metal Jacket. Just as in Jacket, the rituals and tasks (such as assembling cheap plastic dolls) of the institution barely contemplate the chaos of the real world battle to come - the institution seems in no way to provide a meaningful response to the transgressions of its two main protagonists (one can only think of being reunited with her infant daughter; the other was motivated primarily by apparently unrequited love for another inmate), whether as punishment or rehabilitation (a more conventional but still well-handled vignette has one of the tougher inmates released into a world for which she's entirely unprepared). It follows that the film withholds any kind of closure, leaving the prospects of its key characters uncertain after a final disorientating plunge into the outside world, ending on a recurring exterior nighttime shot that eavesdrops on the inmates as they yell out their goodnights and other parting shots for the day. This device may seem to evoke The Waltons of all things, but it's certain that nothing else in the movie will.