dir-scr Robert Cavanah
prd Robert Cavanah, Paul de Vos, Crispin Manson, Matthew Stradling, Royd Tolkien
with Robert Cavanah, Danny Dyer, Billy Boyd, Martin Compston, Gemma Chan, Barbara Nedeljakova, Scarlett Johnson, Hilary Hamilton, Robert Fucilla, Adam Saint, Emilio Doorgasingh, Corey Johnson
release UK 21.May.10
10/UK 1h24
Rescue me: Cavanah and Chan

dyer boyd compston
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Pimp There's a lurid atmosphere to this low-budget film that efficiently plunges us into a place that's almost overwhelmingly seedy. But the filmmakers fudge their faux doc structure and don't create a single character we care about.

A documentary crew is spending a week with low-life pimp Woody (Cavanah) on the streets of London, but what begins as an average series of events soon spirals into something much more sinister as Woody tries to protect his favourite hooker Bo (Chan) from the Chinese mafia while being pressured by his gangster boss (Dyer). Woody's life is full of movers and shakers, all buzzing around on their own specific errands, just like he is. Surely one of them knows what happened to a Ukrainian prostitute who has gone missing.

Filmmaker-actor Cavanah ambitiously packs in a huge number of important characters while keeping things moving so briskly that we can barely keep up. Scenes are crowded with everyone from porn stars to boxers, plus of course the men and women working in the sex trade. The result is dry and often darkly funny, and the doc-style photography is effective at creating the sleazy atmosphere with heavy echoes of Taxi Driver.

The actors all play up to the cameras, which adds some authenticity even if it prevents us from believing anything they say. Cavanah's Woody is witty and sometimes full of righteous rage, but we're never concerned about what might happen to him. In fact, no one in the film engages our sympathies; even Chan's victimised Bo is clearly a tough cookie. And while most of the characters seem to be in slightly over their heads in this sordid business, we can't help but feel that they deserve whatever they get.

It does help to have charismatic actors like Dyer, Boyd and Compston on board, although they also undermine the film's documentary pretentions. As does the convoluted climax, which is actually shot as a narrative feature with "concealed camera" cutaways to distract us. In the end, everyone on screen begins to feel rather cartoonish and over-the-top. They're watchable because the film is fast and slick, but it's also distastefully misogynistic and grim.

cert 18 themes, language, sexuality, violence 7.Apr.10

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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall