This is a superb film, with a pattern and texture closely resembling that of other films by part-director Kiarostami, in that the emotional content of events are low-key throughout, until toward the end of the film, when something gives. Here, it is the work of Loach which provides the great triumphal moment at the end, when the basic goodness of human nature is confirmed by the selfless act of the three Celtic fans in giving up a train ticket to a needy family of Albanian refugees.. but perhaps the greatest affirmation comes right at the very end of this sequence, which has to be seen to be truly understood. This is a magnificent film which grows on you by degrees as you watch it.
I can understand why this film has received 10/10 - it's excellent.
Perhaps the most surprising element is the ending - it's in such strong contrast to the rest of the film, that it is akin to a psychological 'splitting off' by the main character, Niccolo. As he gazes into his own imaginary world, he experiences, in imagined dialogue with his nephew, a scenario from a film he may direct - a spaceship flies towards the sun, which appears to explode or expand, and fantasises about receiving the answers 'to so many things'.
It links in with the 'sun expanding' headline glimpsed from a newspaper earlier in the film, and works well for this ground being set for it.
I cannot decided whether this ending is bleak or hopeful - whether he escapes into a world of fantasy because of his inability to face up to the pain involved in looking at his impotence in resolving the relationship issues in his life; or whether it is a transcendental ending, in which he uses his situation to plunge into a creative world.
It's this ambiguity (and lack of didactic intent from Antonioni) which gives the film its quality and power.
This is a good film in that the plot unfolds nicely, the camera-work and the acting generally work well. However, its flaws left me feeling hugely dissatisfied, manipulated and treated a bit like an idiot by Bertolucci - he lays it on too thick. The use of music is ridiculously melodramatic and gratuitous, as is much else in the film. Unfortunately, the film neglects to develop the main characters, and offers us no insights into how they arrived at the personal predicaments they end up facing. Having said that, this film did hold my attention throughout, as despite there being much that is undeveloped, it does present a rich and varied tapestry of a period of time in which social developments are strongly representative of much that is both noble and ignoble in the human spirit.