While this is an incredibly difficult movie to watch, it’s a work of visual poetry and has true depth. And its images stay in your head.
With a story about people who make their living from crime and its unflinching focus on hard drugs and prostitution – and the occasional murder thrown in – it’s certainly not a feelgood comedy romp.
But I think I expected another gritty kitchen sink tale of poverty and woe. This is a profoundly affecting film, thanks to a few factors.
The settings are all very close to me, in London’s east end, but these characters have few chances in life. Given the upcoming Olympics, this area is improving. “Ill Manors” subtly states these improvements are irrelevant to its characters.
I have lived in east London for 18 years and I am good at understanding any voice or accent. However, if this movie gets an American release, it’s going to need English subtitles. Despite my familiarity, what is being said is on the edge – just on the right side – of my understanding and will be incomprehensible to North Americans.
Above all, you get engrossed and involved with the people.
It’s all very much a labour of love for local musician Plan B – Ben Drew – and that comes through in every scene. He directed and wrote this. It’s an elegy for a harsh way of life.
The acting is all extraordinarily good. Riz Ahmed, Ed Skrein, Natalie Press, Anouska Mond and Lee Allen lead, but Eloise Smith as young Jodie grabs your attention in every scene she is in. She has a bright future.
The acton moves along quickly, engulfing all in crime. There’s a real documentary feel here that grabs you from the first scene.
Punk performance poet John Cooper Clarke is also here, with well-written lines, and he will make some new fans.
The soundtrack features new tracks by Plan B and it fits in with the plot very well, even if you are not a fan. Don’t judge it by the trailer, which fails to show the big emotion and ideas of the film.
I saw it at Stratford Picturehouse in a disappointingly small audience. “Ill Manors”, with its clever title, crudely translating as “bad homes”, deserves to be seen by anyone who has a stomach for violence. It says more about poverty and exclusion than any government study could.