This streetsmart, non-PC and very funny immigrants-in-London comedy makes ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ look like a government advisory documentary. Subtitled ‘The Russian’s Guide to Ripping Off London’, it stars Ben Barnes – unrecognisable from ‘Narnia’ – as Cobakka and Andrei Chadov as Spiker, the odd couple of immoral, 25-year-old, draft-dodging Muscovites who come to ‘foggy Albion’ to stash some cash and get the hell out. Dead-end ‘snide’ jobs, urine-ridden flats, herbal and narcotic analgesics and betraying fellow Russians contrive, however, to turn exploitation into purgatory.
The performances are spiky, the use of varied locations is fresh and the dialogue – ‘How could I ever imagine that I, a Moscow hooligan and Nazi would become a negro lover?’ – is warmingly non-exemplary. It’s only the over-frenetic MTV visuals and the unsuccessful final push for pathos and the moral highground that spoil the show.