Gritty, dour and hard-as-nails, Funny Cow is a powerful drama about a female stand-up comic battling with her audiences and home life in 1970s working class Yorkshire.
Domestic violence, racism and homophobia are the norm as an abrasive Maxine Peake (The Theory of Everything, The Falling) confronts the male establishment (and gets a broken nose, courtesy of a violent, threatening husband for her trouble). It’s a harsh life with her jokes crude, her heckling audiences cruder.
It’s the social realism world of Ken Loach, but director Adrian Shergold (The Last Hangman, TV’s Holding On) has extensive experience in television rather than film – and it shows. Strong performances by Peake and Tony Pitts (War Horse, Rogue One) as her husband fail to cover the shortcomings in the narrative and lack of explanation in some of the superfluous background scenes.