Little heard of since his screenplay for ‘The Theory of Flight’, writer-director Richard Hawkins shows great promise in this downbeat psychological thriller debut. Ray Winstone plays heavy-breathing punter Richard, who visits Jan Graveson’s platinum blonde Soho prostitute Naomi just to talk; he returns daily, the tension and the price-tag rising as his questions become ever more delving. Hawkins holds tight on the dangerous psychosexual fencing match between hooker and client, intimating by degrees the complex shading of their relationship from the professional into the personal. The question is, what is this guy’s fucking problem?
True, the scenario is overfamiliar and tends to the voyeuristic, and the hand-held camerawork is occasionally clumsy – those overemphatic jump-zooms in particular. But the performances are terrific – Winstone is at his downbeat best, but ex-‘EastEnders’ regular Graveson is a revelation, subtle and entirely credible – and the direction is keen and beautifully tempered. Winstone sings a lovely version of Blur’s ‘Tender’ over the end credits.