Sometimes you encounter a director, actor or writer you want to see more of. It’s a lot rarer to discover a film that makes you wish more filmmakers were prepared to throw out the rulebook altogether. ‘Here for Life’, directors Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson’s extraordinary exploration of London life, is that kind of film.
Five years in the making, it introduces us to ten individuals living in London. Among them are Jono, trying to stay sober after becoming estranged from his wife and kid; Patrick, whose preferred mode of transport is a horse; and Errol, who writes poetry to process his violent past.
At one point, we see the three men trying to steal a salmon from Billingsgate fish market without much success. It’s a funny scene and one which might lead the viewer to assume that ‘Here for Life’ is a documentary. But it’s not, not quite. Each person we meet is a member of the experimental theatre company Cardboard Citizens, which produces work for and by people who have experienced homelessness. During the film, they are rehearsing for a performance. So, while the stories we hear may be true, they are not always being told by their owners.
Zimmerman’s past work has cast a spotlight on society’s marginalised. With ‘Here for Life’, she and Jackson, the artistic director of Cardboard Citizens, have crafted something special about Londoners and their relationships with drugs, violence and homelessness against the backdrop of a gentrifying city. It’s not to be missed.