South West Nine

Party on. Mitch and Jake (Letheren and Laing) get ready for the big night...
dir-scr Richard Parry
with Wil Johnson, Stuart Laing, Mark Letheren, Frank Harper, Amelia Curtis, Orlessa Edwards, Nicola Stapleton, Stephen Lord, Zebida Gardener-Sharper, Robbie Gee, Ellen Thomas, Roshen Seth
release UK 12.Oct.01
01/UK 1h38

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
no ordinary day trip Edgy and kinetic, this look at life in the ethnic mix of south London starts very well indeed, with vivid characters, above-average actors and a terrific visual feel. Then its seams start to show. The story follows one very strange day in the life of six main characters in Brixton: Our narrator Freddy (Johnson) is a delivery man for a local drug boss (Gee). Best mates Jake and Mitch (Laing and Letheren) are up to several scams at once, while Mitch accidentally sends himself on an epic acid trip. Kat (Curtis) is a dreadlocked rich kid turned anti-establishment squatter. Helen (Edwards) is a local girl made good, with a top banking job and a missing briefcase. And Douser (Harper) is a local thug trying to even the score.

The fresh cast underplays nicely, drawing us into the various plot threads while Parry's bright, sharp writing and directing keeps us interested. But the film is extremely derivative, using the same whizzy camera work, cutaways and even story structure as both Trainspotting and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. There's also a rather maddening reliance on narration to tell the story, rather than actually have the characters convey to us who they are or what they're up to. But the catchy visuals, snappy documentary cutaways and engaging themes draw us in anyway ... until it starts to sag in the second half. The plot actually stops altogether at one point for an extended drugs sequence that tries to inject horror into the otherwise comically chaotic storyline. And the film never stops drifting after that, dragging out the finale with maddeningly vague scenes, an increasingly preachy tone and a silly cop-out to its main plot. The film touches on themes of loyalty, friendship, family, racial and economic barriers, but by turning overtly--and pretentiously--political, Parry seems to miss his own point.
adult themes and situations, language, drugs cert 18 9.Oct.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall