London to Brighton (18)

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out says

Tue Nov 28 2006

There’s much to admire in Paul Andrew Williams’s low-budget debut feature, not least the genuine empathy with which he approaches the reality of homelessness and child prostitution. It opens with a jolt at 3.07am, somewhere in London: Kelly (Lorraine Stanley), a young woman with a swollen eye, bursts through a toilet door to join Joanne (Georgia Groome), her pre-teen companion, who’s shaking with fear. Soon they’re on a train to Brighton, but not before Kelly turns a trick to raise the fare. Meanwhile, sad-sack pimp Derek (Johnny Harris) is taking instructions from Stuart (Sam Spruell), a quiet-spoken, middle-class gangster-figure, who’s aggrieved about an accident that’s befallen his father and wants the two girls caught pronto (an instruction he delivers with a knife-strike to Derek’s thigh). . .

On one level, Williams’s film is a tender, human and convincing portrait of an ugly world. Intimate scenes with Kelly and Joanne are smartly written, acted and directed so as to explore the uncomfortable conflict between Joanne’s desperate inexperience and the hard-nosed maturity and sexual nous needed to survive the streets (‘I’ve never worn make-up before,’ says 11-year-old Joanne en route to a midnight tryst with an old man). But while Williams has one eye firmly on the real world, he has the other on Planet Film, from where Stuart and his henchmen have clearly caught the early train. After a promising start, the film becomes less about the experience of an archetypal runaway and more about exploiting terror for big-screen thrills. The further ‘London to Brighton’ enters the realm of the extreme, with nighttime assassinations and at least one character straight out of ‘Performance’, the less it feels like it’s saying anything at all.
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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Dec 1, 2006

Duration:

85 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

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LiveReviews|6
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Jade

As the final credits of London to Brighton roll, you can’t help but feel that the world is truly a place without hope for the underdogs of society. But don’t be put off by the despondent atmosphere or the strong subject matter – this is the British movie of its year. I strongly enjoyed the film, but i don't know whether it was because I was 15 (almost 17 now). In a strange, twisted way it portrayed a serious message that would have numerous interpretations. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone - for the deep thinkers it would be the most rewarding. Over all i would give London to Brighton 4 or 5 stars ( edging more towards five)

Jade

As the final credits of London to Brighton roll, you can’t help but feel that the world is truly a place without hope for the underdogs of society. But don’t be put off by the despondent atmosphere or the strong subject matter – this is the British movie of its year. I strongly enjoyed the film, but i don't know whether it was because I was 15 (almost 17 now). In a strange, twisted way it portrayed a serious message that would have numerous interpretations. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone - for the deep thinkers it would be the most rewarding. Over all i would give London to Brighton 4 or 5 stars ( edging more towards five)

MrMustard

Now here’s a potentailly controversial statement: one of British cinema's greatest triumphs is its efficiency in producing fantastic crime films. Indeed classic crime films. It’s what we do well, like social-realist cinema, queuing and terrible railway food. Since 1997’s Lock Stock, and more damagingly the litter of eye-wateringly poor imitators left in it’s bloody wake, this simple truth has been collectively erased in most critical minds. ‘Britsh Gangster film’ is now a byword for over ripe mockney accents, ‘ironic’ Tarantino violence, Loaded fashion spread posturing and a lot of facking swearing. It’s open to debate as to what was the ultimate nail in the coffin, the point where most of us switched the lights off and left the room. Some would say it was Rancid Aluminium- I’d go for the scalp-prickling Love, Honour & Obey, the cinematic equivalent of watching someone openly and shamelessly self-abuse. So when something like London to Brighton comes along most people see it as a fresh take on a bankrupt genre. It’s not. It’s part of a strong lineage, with robust enough genes to power through the retarded generation which produced such gems as Circus and the All Saints catastrophe Honest. A lineage that stretches back from Brighton Rock and League of Gentleman, through Performance, Get Carter & Mona Lisa right the way up to Following and Sexy Beast. London to Brighton is an instant classic and one which comfortably takes its place in the pantheon. The plot is none too original and is essentially a chase, bearing some resemblance to John Cassavette’s Gloria. However it’s the treatment which is striking. London to Brighton takes that other great British cinema tradition- that of Ken Loach social-realism with its cast of underclass characters and colour palette of stale vase water, and injects it with 100% proof adrenalin. The result is a film built on a fault line. It’s like those trick images you played with as a child, hold it from one angle you’d see the Virgin, the other Christ on the cross- in one instant you feel you’re watching a furious social diatribe and the next a brutal art-exploitation movie. It’s from this schism that London to Brighton derives most of its unsettling force. It could be argued that it is precisely this schism that makes the film ethically problematic and I’d be lying if I said that using the threat of paedophilia as a plot device didn’t make me uncomfortably shift in my seat. At least Guy Ritchie’s movies made no pretence to (social) realism and acted out their shock moves in a vacuum packed, gravity proofed fantasy world. Is there something dishonest in deriving your cinematic shocks from very real societal issues such as child abuse, poverty and prostitution? Maybe there’s an argument here but I would argue that the thing that saves the film, the thing that neuters any concerns is the almost biblically heavy morality which underlies every scene, every line, every action and every outburst of violence- a moral weight which grounds everything. It was this coupled with the very palpable sense of self-disgust which engines nearly every character that jet propels London to Brighton light-years beyond the Brit gangster pack. Biggest plaudits in this instance must go to Johnny Harris’s portrayal of a twitchy pimp, morally and physically limp who’s so saturated with self loathing he can’t look anyone in the eye. One of the finest British movies of the decade.

MrMustard

Now here’s a potentailly controversial statement: one of British cinema's greatest triumphs is its efficiency in producing fantastic crime films. Indeed classic crime films. It’s what we do well, like social-realist cinema, queuing and terrible railway food. Since 1997’s Lock Stock, and more damagingly the litter of eye-wateringly poor imitators left in it’s bloody wake, this simple truth has been collectively erased in most critical minds. ‘Britsh Gangster film’ is now a byword for over ripe mockney accents, ‘ironic’ Tarantino violence, Loaded fashion spread posturing and a lot of facking swearing. It’s open to debate as to what was the ultimate nail in the coffin, the point where most of us switched the lights off and left the room. Some would say it was Rancid Aluminium- I’d go for the scalp-prickling Love, Honour & Obey, the cinematic equivalent of watching someone openly and shamelessly self-abuse. So when something like London to Brighton comes along most people see it as a fresh take on a bankrupt genre. It’s not. It’s part of a strong lineage, with robust enough genes to power through the retarded generation which produced such gems as Circus and the All Saints catastrophe Honest. A lineage that stretches back from Brighton Rock and League of Gentleman, through Performance, Get Carter & Mona Lisa right the way up to Following and Sexy Beast. London to Brighton is an instant classic and one which comfortably takes its place in the pantheon. The plot is none too original and is essentially a chase, bearing some resemblance to John Cassavette’s Gloria. However it’s the treatment which is striking. London to Brighton takes that other great British cinema tradition- that of Ken Loach social-realism with its cast of underclass characters and colour palette of stale vase water, and injects it with 100% proof adrenalin. The result is a film built on a fault line. It’s like those trick images you played with as a child, hold it from one angle you’d see the Virgin, the other Christ on the cross- in one instant you feel you’re watching a furious social diatribe and the next a brutal art-exploitation movie. It’s from this schism that London to Brighton derives most of its unsettling force. It could be argued that it is precisely this schism that makes the film ethically problematic and I’d be lying if I said that using the threat of paedophilia as a plot device didn’t make me uncomfortably shift in my seat. At least Guy Ritchie’s movies made no pretence to (social) realism and acted out their shock moves in a vacuum packed, gravity proofed fantasy world. Is there something dishonest in deriving your cinematic shocks from very real societal issues such as child abuse, poverty and prostitution? Maybe there’s an argument here but I would argue that the thing that saves the film, the thing that neuters any concerns is the almost biblically heavy morality which underlies every scene, every line, every action and every outburst of violence- a moral weight which grounds everything. It was this coupled with the very palpable sense of self-disgust which engines nearly every character that jet propels London to Brighton light-years beyond the Brit gangster pack. Biggest plaudits in this instance must go to Johnny Harris’s portrayal of a twitchy pimp, morally and physically limp who’s so saturated with self loathing he can’t look anyone in the eye. One of the finest British movies of the decade.

Mark Goodman

This taut gripping thriller wil keep you on the edge of your seats and evokes genuine emotion for its two lead characters. A slightly unbelievable hostage scene is my only gripe in what i would otherwise call british film making at its best. On this form Williams will clearly be making bigger budget movies soon, I only hope this will not detract from his obviously excellent cinematic skills.

Mark Goodman

This taut gripping thriller wil keep you on the edge of your seats and evokes genuine emotion for its two lead characters. A slightly unbelievable hostage scene is my only gripe in what i would otherwise call british film making at its best. On this form Williams will clearly be making bigger budget movies soon, I only hope this will not detract from his obviously excellent cinematic skills.