Ghosts (4 stars)

More4, Tue 17 Apr, 10pm


When you think about Nick Broomfield and his work, you probably don’t think grimy, subtle and slow. Though, you might conjure up an image of a posh guy with a camera upsetting all manner of ruthless crooks and political outcasts with his bumbling ways. There is another vision: that of the documentary-maker who decided to turn his hand to feature films and spewed forth the truly awful Diamond Skulls. In the near 20 years of superb non-fiction creation since, Broomfield has thankfully not been tempted to stray back into ‘the movies’. Until now. But wisely, he has opted to film a dramatised and highly poignant version of real events, that of the tragedy in the winter of 2004 when 21 Chinese cockle-pickers drowned in Morecambe Bay.

He focuses his tale upon Ai Qin, a young mother who believes that leaving her family in China to find work in the UK will be the solution to all their problems. It soon becomes apparent, thanks to the callous gangsters and corrupt officials who hold her fate in their grubby hands, that the horrible journey and nasty conditions she finds herself in were barely worth the financial outlay and emotional trauma she invested in the mission. But, as we now know, much worse is to come. Even the nagging feeling that Broomfield will saunter into shot at any given moment, accidentally bashing someone’s head with his boom isn’t enough to douse the impact of this impressive and stately film.

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