Carla's Song (1997)

In Ken Loach’s drama, Robert Carlyle stars as a Glaswegian who falls in love with a Nicaraguan woman living in exile.

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Alternative titles

  • La canción de Carla Alternative


“Its portrait of an idealistic peasant-based army and its supporters standing up to a ruthless enemy is unabashedly nostalgic for the leftist dream the Sandinistas once represented.”
Stephen Holden, New York Times, 1998

Bus driver George (Robert Carlyle) falls for Carla (Oyanka Cabezas), a Nicaraguan refugee living in Glasgow in 1987. He travels with her to her country of birth – which is in the thick of an attempted coup seeking to overthrow the ruling socialist Sandinistas – to help find her former lover.

Carlyle was familiar with audiences following his performance in Trainspotting (1996), but Cabezas had never acted before, continuing Loach’s preference for using non-professionals in his films. This was Paul Laverty’s first script – a human rights lawyer who had worked in Nicaragua, he first contacted Loach with a screenplay idea back in the 1980s. Loach and Laverty would continue to collaborate on all but one of the director’s subsequent films.

In Loach’s previous movie, Land and Freedom (1995) set during the Spanish Civil War, he also explored the experiences of a Briton coping with a radical political climate abroad.

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