My Kingdom
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
as flies to wanton boys Director-cowriter Boyd blends Shakespeare's King Lear with the British crime drama in this fascinating, but not completely successful, film. It centres on Sandeman (Harris), top dog on the Liverpool mob scene, whose wife (Redgrave) is inexplicably and tragically killed one night. From here his world unravels as he passes his empire on to his three daughters: brothel keeper Kath (Lombard), football team owner Tracy (Pilkington) and recovering addict Jo (Catherwood). But favoured daughter Jo wants nothing to do with it, leaving Kath and Tracy to battle it out with help from their thuggish husbands (McGann and Mistry) and a number of other unsavoury characters.

The plot is very clever, but Boyd weighs it down with too many characters and events, all intertwined and far too complicated to keep track of. We can follow it to a degree, and yet key scenes are confusing and therefore lacking in the punch that would make it all far more meaningful. Still, at the centre is a wonderful performance from Harris as a man watching his carefully built world implode spectacularly. His finely measured, subtle acting is terrific, especially as he engages with the other characters. And his specific story arc is terrifically moving in a way nothing else about the film is. Elsewhere, McGann and Mistry stand out with against-type performances that are truly vicious and frightening, hinting at a lot under the surface. All of the acting is far above average--the characters are believable and fascinating, creepy and surprisingly human. So it's even more of a pity that the film is so overloaded with meaning and plotlines and people and scenes that never all come together coherently. We spend so much time trying desperately to get everything straight in our minds that the raw punch of the material passes us by. And it ends up feeling like just another uneven British crime drama.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, sex, drugs 18.Sep.02

dir Don Boyd
scr Nick Davies, Don Boyd
with Richard Harris, Lynne Redgrave, Jimi Mistry, Paul McGann, Emma Catherwood, Louise Lombard, Lorraine Pilkington, Reece Noi, Tom Bell, Aidan Gillen, Colin Salmon, David Yip
release UK 11.Oct.02; US 6.Dec.02
02/UK 1h57

Sons-in-war. Sandeman's two sons-in-law (Mistry and McGann) face off against each other for control of the kingdom...

harris redgrave mistry gillen
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... as flies to wanton boys Stefan Bilmer, Germany: 3/5 "Richard Harris' performance is subtle and moving. You forget that he is an actor only playing this character. The film could have used more than a bit of editing. At times it moves at a painfully slow pace, without using its prolonged running time to explore the characters in depth. In the end, it's Harris' stellar performance that saves the film." (19.Jun.04)
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall