Shane Meadows’s feature debut is nothing short of breathtaking. Shot in remarkably beautiful black and white, this feels like a film from a mature filmmaker whose visual confidence and authority are manifest in every shot. The film is set during the Thatcher years, a period of despair and hopelessness for Britain’s youth. A middle-aged, somewhat-paunchy Alan Darcy (Bob Hoskins) sets out to resurrect a boxing club which gave him a safe haven during his reckless youth. He then persuades a group of local lads to release their anger within the canvas square of the ring, a place that requires discipline and finesse as opposed to blunt power and brute aggression.
Meadows peers into the lives of his characters without pulling any punches. It is a dysfunctional landscape of brutish fathers, casual drugs, rejection, and a sense of futility. While the future may seem relentlessly desperate, the film never lapses into self-pity. Darcy’s naive enthusiasm for getting kids off the street, combined with the teenagers’ high jinks, gives <i>TwentyFourSeven</i> an energy at odds with the stark landscape.
This is an impressive work of cinematic intelligence. Hoskins is nothing short of brilliant, giving a performance to match that of <i>Mona Lisa</i>, and Meadows consistently impresses with his control of the material. In some respects, this is Meadows’s <i>The Four Hundred Blows</i> or <i>American Graffiti</i>, but it also defies comparisons. <i>TwentyFourSeven</i> marks the debut of a filmmaker to watch at a point when the British cinema appears to be on the verge of a major resurrection.
Shane Meadows, Director
After growing up in the Midlands of England, Shane Meadows started writing, directing, and producing short films using borrowed equipment and casting himself and his friends and family. He directed the documentary <i>King of the Gypsies</i> for Channel Four TV. His next project, <i>Small Time</i>, which he wrote, directed and starred in, won critical acclaim at the Edinburgh, Toronto, and Raindance film festivals. <i>Where’s the Money, Ronnie?</i> won him the prestigious 1996 Channel One/NFT short film competition. <i>TwentyFourSeven</i> marks his feature debut.
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