After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex noir mystery set in multiracial London. It's a stylishly made film, anchored by another superbly involving performance by Riz Ahmed. But its low budget shows in the way it strains to obscure secrets in blurry flashbacks, using intriguing characters to create a lot of atmosphere while neglecting to properly tell the story.
It's set in London's northwest inner-suburbs, where Tommy (Ahmed) grew up. He lives with his feisty but ill father (Roshan Seth) and works as a private detective. His latest client is the high-class hooker Melody (Cush Jumbo), who is concerned because one of her colleagues has gone missing. As he looks for her, Tommy discovers the dead body of a prominent businessman who has a link to his childhood friend Haafiz (James Floyd), now a high-flying property developer. And things are getting increasingly messy, with American spies prowling around and a local Muslim brotherhood entangled in the case. Tommy hires a sparky neighbour (Damson Idris) to help him, and then he runs into his childhood sweetheart Shelley (Billie Piper), who brings up emotions he thought he'd left behind.
All of this is intercut with blurred flashbacks of Tommy, Haafiz and Shelley when they were 17 years old. This stirs in some intriguing emotions, even if the scenes feel like a distraction since they take so long to reveal their secrets and never quite connect with the central mystery. Travis keeps the tone warm and dense, with dark colours, emotive faces and Tommy's probing voiceover, all of which creates a vivid sense of atmosphere. On the other hand, the plot merely gets more knotted as it goes along, bringing in more people and themes. So even if the story never quite ties up all of its lose ends, at least it's a fascinating portrayal of the ethnic mix in most London neighbourhoods.
Continue reading: City Of Tiny Lights Review
Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed) is an experienced private detective living in London, whose past comes rushing back with the return of his long-lost girlfriend Shelley (Billie Piper). But that's the least of his troubles. He's called in by an escort named Melody (Cush Jumbo) following the disappearance of her Russian flatmate after the latter had left for an appointment with a client. She's willing to pay whatever cost Tommy has in mind to get her friend back, a friend who was last seen in CCTV footage arriving at a hotel in Paddington. So where better to start looking? He also enlists the help of an unlikely friend to go undercover. However, it soon becomes clear that this is a lot bigger than he first thought; he's being threatened by suits as he gets closer to uncovering the dark underworld of London's social politics. There's a disturbing religious undertone to this case, which leads Tommy unwittingly into a world of violence and terrorism.
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Mo and Rashid are the sons of two Egyptian immigrants growing up in a cultured household. However, living in the unpredictable town of Hackney in East London has had its effect on them as they have grown older, with Rashid getting involved in a local gang and Mo unhealthily admiring him. Rashid feels guilty about the life his brother is destined to lead and attempts to save for his college fees through dealing drugs. It isn't long before Rashid gets a taste of a life without violence or drug-dealing as he meets an affluent photographer who also forces Rashid to question much more about himself. Unbeknownst to him at first, Mo is becoming more involved with the world Rashid left behind which threatens to tear apart the bond between these once close siblings.
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Sharply well-observed, this punchy British drama is packed with rising-star talent, including its gifted first-time writer-director, an engaging young cast and skilled cinematographer David Raedeker. The film also daringly tackles hot potato issues without ever getting preachy about them: this is an intimate, deeply involving story that can't help but make us think.
It's set in Hackney, where the British-born Mo (Elsayed) lives with his Egyptian parents. Mo is a sharp kid who has just finished his exams and has a bright future, but he idolises his cool big brother Rash (Floyd) and wants to join his drug gang. To protect Mo, Rash quits the gang and takes a proper job as assistant to a French-Arabic photographer (Taghmaoui). But when Mo discovers that Rash might be gay, he freaks out, offering to run drugs for the gang leader (Hamdouchi) and letting everyone think that Rash is actually a terrorist.
Instead of the usual urban London melodrama, this story is told through the relationships, which makes it hugely involving right from the start. This also lets the actors shine with transparent, honest performances that draw out the complexity in every situation. At the centre, Floyd creates wonderful textures in his protective interaction with the expressive, likeable Elfayed. As things begin to shift, their reactions are gripping. And this extends to scenes with side characters like Rash's best pal Izzi (Welsh) and Mo's tentative girlfriend Aisha (Wright).
Continue reading: My Brother The Devil Review
For all his life, it has been presumed that when Ash finished his studies he'd enter the family business but recently he's been realising that he has dreams and ambitions of his own, far from those that his father always took for granted. A clever and attractive guy, Ash is stuck between two worlds: there's the hedonistic life he leads with his friends in London city where nothing is off limits and there's also the more conservative part of his life which centres on his family.
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After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...
Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed) is an experienced private detective living in London, whose past comes...
Mo and Rashid are the sons of two Egyptian immigrants growing up in a cultured...
Sharply well-observed, this punchy British drama is packed with rising-star talent, including its gifted first-time...
For all his life, it has been presumed that when Ash finished his studies he'd...