This London-set drama is the debut feature of property developer-turned-screenwriter Leon Butler. Despite a complete lack of industry connections, Butler somehow convinced man-of-the-moment Idris Elba to produce and star in his film for nothing. That’s the equivalent of chucking it all in to busk outside your local tube station and getting signed by Simon Cowell on your first day.
Elba plays former England rugby captain Max Moore, who’s on a path to self-destruction having been kicked out by his wife Emily (Gemma Arterton) for enjoying a bit of the old extra-marital. Elba and Arterton have chemistry, but rarely do they get out of first gear – stuck in stereotypical characters: Max the flawed alpha male, Emily the conflicted and confused mother of his kids.
Their relationship is one of three stories. Elsewhere, Kingsley (Franz Drameh), a street-level drug-dealer wants to get into acting, while the life of a middle-aged cab-driver George’s (Charlie Creed-Miles) changes after an accident on the job. The strands don’t so much intersect as float into each other’s peripheries to basically inconsequential effect, despite attempts to tie them together.
Restricting the action to south-west London may have been a practical, budgetary decision, but it does help to establish a distinct sense of place. The broad spectrum of society squeezed into just a few postcodes helps to illustrate how, to some degree, the same problems and weaknesses dog us all.
But in the final five minutes one specific character decision betrays everything that’s led up to it. The result is a sappy-sweet ending that sits incredibly uncomfortably.