4.3.2.1

Film

Action & adventure

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Time Out rating:

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Time Out says

Tue Jun 1 2010

Noel Clarke’s latest, ‘4.3.2.1’, is on the face of it completely different to his ‘Kidulthood’ mini-franchise. Following four west London sixth-form girls who get mixed up with stolen diamonds, it’s a brash and ambitious play for the mainstream: girl power rebooted for anyone too young to remember Riot Grrrl or even the Spice Girls. Still, jammed as it is with teen sex and misbehaving, and with a plotline that hinges on a packet of Pringles, if you’re over 21 you’re probably too old to be watching.

Like a pop svengali, Clarke has put together a line-up of characters to cater for all tastes. The film splits into four sections, covering the same three days from the perspective of each. Tamsin Egerton plays a pretty, posh blonde who jets off to New York to lose her virginity. Ophelia Lovibond is the arty indie screw-up. American actress Emma Roberts is all sass and smarts, while Shanika Warren-Markland, who had a tiny part in ‘Adulthood’, announces herself as a big new talent as the butt-kicking, feisty one. Clarke himself appears and there are cameos from R&B singer Eve and ‘Clerks’ director Kevin Smith.

The film doesn’t go in for subtlety. It’s frenetically paced, with non-stop music, and pops with teen issues: abortion, self-harm, bisexuality, suicide, stalking. That’s before you get to the diamond heist. But Clarke has got an unmistakable knack for writing teens. One of this lot is more worried that her mates aren’t talking to her than the fact that she has an international smuggling ring on her tail. As for girl power, the message doesn’t wash. These girls are brilliantly un-victimy and always come out fighting. If only they weren’t incessantly paraded about in their underwear for the viewing pleasure of men. For Clarke, to disenfranchise half his audience would be a crime worse than selling out the sisters.
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