The first thing that hit me about TwentyFourSeven was the starkness of the black and white film and the bareness of the sets. That combined with the film's slow pacing and simple plot make the first half of the film feel very long.
At the center of TwentyFourSeven is Bob Hoskins as Darcy, a middle-aged man from a relatively rural area in England. Although not an obvious leader, Darcy finds the motivation within himself to open a boxing club for the local youth. It is his impression that this club, like the one he had as a teen, will restore camaraderie and pride to the troubled lads.
With its simple no-budget look, the film seems to have little going for it on first glance. The often documentary-type camera movements, intermittent jump cuts, and sometimes peculiar shooting angles could contribute to an impression that first time feature film director Shane Meadows is not quite ready for such a large scale project. Around the middle of the film though, we begin to see what Meadows is trying to show us. His film is not an epic. It is a character study of a small town and how one man in that town tries to deal with its problems.
With little plot to concern him, Meadows prefers to dwell on character development and how the relationships between Darcy and the lads develop. The lack of production values, the slow pacing, and the leisurely plot allow Meadows to dwell exclusively on these relationships without distracting the audience.
Ironically, the film's major flaw may be that it spends too much time chronicling the rise and fall of Hoskins' Darcy, and not enough time letting us get to know the other characters. The plot is inconsequential. The power of the movie comes in how it paints for us a scene of a society and a people we have never met, yet after 100 minutes come to feel intimately familiar with.
TwentyFourSeven is a strong character picture, and could not have succeeded without excellent performances by Hoskins, in his most complex role yet, and a strong supporting cast of relative newcomers led by Danny Nussbaum as Tim.
Meadows substitutes passion and energy for his lack of experience in making this film. In the end, he gives us a telling view of his own youth.
Aka 24 7: Twenty Four Seven.