More shrewdly judged than TwentyFourSeven, this is a small picture with a deceptively big kick. In terms of scale, you can't get much more down-to-earth than a portrait of a couple of 12- to 13-year-old boys growing up on a Midlands estate. Romeo (Shim) is a jolly, well nourished lad, who lives next door to his best friend Knocks (Marshall). The boys are inseparable - until they meet Morrell (Considine), who takes Romeo under his wing. Knocks he despises: because of his limp, and because he plays a prank which humiliates Morrell in front of his sister Ladine (McClure). Meadows begins with the kind of honest attention to detail you find in Ken Loach, then, like Mike Leigh, builds up comic observation almost to the point of caricature, but with none of Leigh's latent contempt. He likes these boys for their foibles, their vulnerability and fecklessness as much as for their fundamentally good nature. But the joker in the pack is Morrell, and Considine's dangerous comic turn, which twists the film from affectionate larkiness to arrive at some genuinely shocking conclusions about what it may be that constitutes 'manhood'. Throw in a soundtrack featuring The Specials, Ian Brown, Beth Orton, Billy Bragg and Fairport Convention. This smashing movie is fresh, true and poignant as a song.
Cast and crew
Paul Fraser, Shane Meadows
Andrew Shim Ben Marshall Paddy Considine Frank Harper Julia Ford James Higgins Vicky McClure Bob Hoskins