Monday, February 04, 2013

Ill Manors

Ill Manors is a British crime drama film written and directed by Ben Drew, also known as Plan B. The film, which is set in Forest Gate, London, revolves around the lives of eight main characters, played by Riz Ahmed, Ed Skrein, Keith Coggins, Lee Allen, Nick Sagar, Ryan De La Cruz, Anouska Mond and Natalie Press, and features six original songs by Plan B, which act as a narration for the film. Ill Manors is a multi-character story, set over the course of seven days, a scene where everyone is fighting for respect. The film focuses on eight core characters, and their circles of violence, as they struggle to survive on the streets. Each story weaves into one another, painting an ultra-realistic gritty picture of the world which is on the brink of self-destruction. Each story is also represented by a different rap song.
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Plan B's London riots-inspired directorial debut misses out on the opportunity to make a political statement, says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian: Ill Manors is a multi-stranded urban crime drama set in east London, the debut feature film from Ben Drew, otherwise known as singer-songwriter Plan B, and developed from his widely hailed song of the same name, all about the 2011 summer riots. The first half-hour of this movie is great: chaotic, inventive, energetic. But after this, the dynamism worryingly leaks out of the film; it turns out to be disappointingly and determinedly apolitical, while the lairy characters and situations look increasingly forced, derivative and unconvincing, with a touch of Guy Ritchie. By the time Natalie Press turns up, playing a woman forced to work as a prostitute by a sex-trafficking gang, the film has turned into a geezery Brit-Pulp Fiction knockoff. Riz Ahmed – so great in Chris Morris's Four Lions and Eran Creevy's Shifty – is at the centre of film, playing a troubled guy called Aaron, but his character is bafflingly flat and dull, and the film's finale is wildly sentimental.

But the opening has power and flair. It begins with a great rush of energy and a swirl of images from cinematographer Gary Shaw, and a musical track that subtly and rather hauntingly remixes Saint-Saƫns's Carnival of the Animals. Using a mix of professional and non-professional actors, Drew sets out to dramatise the despair of those with no prospects other than selling drugs, with no sense of community or identity, which manifests itself partly in a neurotic obsession with their mobile phones, of which they have large numbers, all on pay-as-you-go so that they can't be traced by "the feds".
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