dir David Kew, Neil Thompson
scr Paul Abbott, Jimmy Dowdall
prd Martin Carr, Neil Thompson
with Parminder Nagra, Stephen Dillane, Jonas Armstrong, Michael Socha, Nichola Burley, Kierston Wareing, Kaya Scodelario, Sebastian Nanena, Gregg Chillin, Nathalie Emmanuel, Melanie Hill, Derek Riddell
release UK 10.Sep.12
12/UK 1h42
East End chill: Armstrong and Nagra

dillane burley wareing
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Twenty8k The writers and directors of this East London crime drama take an original approach to a tired genre. It's essentially a procedural mystery, centred on a sensitive lawyer-investigator. So there's some strong emotional resonance even if it never digs very deep.

After a shooting in an East London nightclub, teen gang member Vipon (Nanena) is arrested, which prompts his lawyer sister Deeva (Nagra) to return home from Paris to help. But as Deeva looks into the case, she discovers that there are far more dangerous things out there than Vipon's small-time Twenty8k drug-ring gang. Property developers are paying off politicians and a dirty cop (Dillane), while shadowy figures are willing to bump off anyone who gets in the way.

There's rather a lot of plot to unravel as this film lurches along, although it's not actually as complicated as it seems. The narrative is choppy, jumping from scene to scene without much connective tissue as conversations are truncated and characters indulge in vaguely shifty behaviour that's designed to make the mystery more enigmatic. But all of this merely points to the fact that the plot is actually somewhat underdeveloped, with character interconnections more suited to an isolated village than a massive metropolis.

Along the way, there are some potent dramatic moments as well as some genuinely shocking events. But everything feels just a bit tentative, perhaps due to the film's budget constraints, or maybe because directors Kew and Thompson decided to avoid getting too down and dirty in the East End crime genre. Indeed, the story is told completely from Deeva's perspective, and as she drives around in her red Audi convertible she looks like an alien in her own hometown. Nagra is terrific as always, hugely sympathetic in the more comical scenes in which she deflects the advances of an old pal (Armstrong) and on the verge of tears the rest of the time.

In the end, the writers begin to hint that everyone in East London is greedy and immoral, except for the one person who has managed to get out. And as the messy gyrations of the plot start working toward a requisite big finale, the film feels overwrought and somewhat exhausting.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 17.Aug.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall