2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
shoreditch This offbeat British mystery-drama is just a bit too ambitious for its budget, story and cast. In 1939 East London, Thomas and Maisie Hickman (Richie and Wightman) run a successful basement jazz club, but their devoted marriage is about to hit trouble in the form of a singer named Butterfly (Richardson), who seduces Thomas and demands that he leave his wife. Thomas is also caught up in a scandal involving drugs, corrupt politicians and the impending World War. Meanwhile in modern-day London, a young man (Ross) discovers that he's just inherited a building in Shoreditch with a bricked-up nightclub in the basement, which is hiding a dead body! Working with his girlfriend (Tyler) and their wacky flatmate (Bovell), he sets out to refurbish the club and solve the mystery of this body ... and his own ancestry.

The story is intriguing, although as it progresses we begin to worry about where it's going (and once we get there, we realise we should have worried a lot more!). Writer-director Needs seems to lose his grip on the material from the very beginning as the actors (and the narrative) rattle around the cheap-looking sets, struggling through each increasingly improbable plot turn and straining our credibility to the point where we giggle at what should be serious climactic scenes. Both story strands are extremely uneven: The 1930s cast is very good, even though the characters and their intertwined relationships never register on screen (for example, Richardson wriggles seductively in extremely tight dresses, but her instant romance with Thomas isn't believable). On the other hand, the modern-day mystery is much more compelling and interesting, but this cast is simply not up to par (Ross should be the film's heart and soul, but never convinces us for a moment). The whole film has a slightly slapped-together feel to it, like Needs himself wasn't confident in his material and yet goes for it anyway. Although he strangely shies away from raw, authentic scenes that would help pull us into the complex story. There's skill here but not nearly enough passion.

cert 15 themes, language, sex, violence, drugs 10.Sep.03

dir-scr Malcolm Needs
with Shane Richie, Joely Richardson, Natasha Wightman, Adam Ross, Claire Tyler, Brian Bovell, Joe Shaw, Jonathan Coy, Glen Murphy, John Standing, Douglas McFerran, Tony Longhurst
release UK 28.Nov.03
03/UK 1h40

Partners in crime: Richie and Shaw

richie richardson
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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... shoreditch Gerton Paul, London: 2 out of 5 stars "Not bad but could be a lot better. The pre war story was the better one. The temptation of Joely is easy to understand in context of impending doom. Nudity from the three cute actresses would have improved it." (7.Nov.03)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall