Bleak Street was another lucky guess, another film I wandered into unknowingly and came out pleasantly entertained. Well, pleasantly is a strange word to use given the subject matter: the accidental murder of two wrestles of short stature. I did not know this was based on a true story, so suffice it to say the film works without having such knowledge.
What I found most compelling int he first half of the film is its exploration of generational relationships, particularly of parasitism. One sex worker takes care of an elderly woman, but also uses her to beg for money. The mother of the wrestlers manages all their money, but is also an alcoholic, along with her husband. The other sex worker (Adela, I believe) also supports a daughter and a husband who drain her money and energy. “Everyone is sucking my blood!” she says at one point.
Exchanges pervade the film, usually unequally. These relationships exist in a grey area, echoing the charcoal-like B&W cinematography. We never escape these bleak streets, though sounds of waves occasionally occur in fades to black. The promise of something greater, perhaps?
This film takes what was an outlandish event, and ground it in the reality of the lives of the working class. It does not look down upon the sex workers, but rather asks for empathy for them and the others bound to Bleak Street.