dir Tinge Krishnan
scr Simon Frank
prd Karen Katz
with Eddie Marsan, Candese Reid, Tom Sturridge, Romola Garai, Shaun Dooley, Bhasker Patel, Valerie Gogan, John Boyega, Shobna Gulati, Chris Coghill, Nabil Elouahabi, Catherine Balavage
release UK 4.Nov.11
11/UK 1h30
Falling further: Marsan and Gogan

marsan sturridge garai
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Junkhearts Riveting performances hold our attention even when this dark drama starts wallowing in the messy lives of its central characters. But there are glimmers of hope along the way, and a terrifyingly realistic depiction of addiction.

Frank (Marsan) is a recovering drunk who can't cope with his past as a military officer. He has lost his wife and daughter as a result, but he's snapped out of his stupor when he meets snarky homeless teen Lynette (Reid) and helps her get back on her feet. Then she brings her drug-dealing boyfriend Danny (Sturridge) into his flat, and Frank's grip on reality starts to waver as he hits the bottle again. Meanwhile, a wealthy businesswoman (Garai) struggles to balance motherhood with her personal and professional lives.

With stylish, earthy camerawork, director Krishnan brings a moody, suggestive authenticity to this film. Shooting in the streets of East London, she captures the multi-ethnic community with its ever-present tensions and lively interaction. Meanwhile, Frank's claustrophobic council flat is almost another character in the story; the way it becomes a seedy hub for partying, drugs and sex feels like a violation of Frank's whole existence.

And the cast members inhabit these spaces organically. Marsan gives a haunting performance as a deeply troubled man struggling to pull himself out of a dark hole then falling even further into it. Shocking twists and turns are sometimes left unexplained, strongly echoing Frank's point of view. His interaction with Reid and Sturridge is a jarring mixture of hopefulness and menace. Meanwhile, Garai's ultimately interwoven storyline is also beautifully played, although it's more interesting than involving.

This isn't an easy film to watch, as the fragmented plot plays with our expectations and struggles to maintain momentum. The script shows how Frank's relationship with Lynette will help them get back on their feet, then it pulls the rug out from under them. Moments of jagged humour and warm emotion keep us engaged even as things take some very bleak turns, and there's also a faint glimmer of hope that keeps the plot moving forward. So as things get increasingly gruelling, we have to keep reminding ourselves that these are essentially nice people whose lives have fallen apart.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, drugs, sexuality 26.Sep.11 lff

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall