Jonathan Fryer

Wild Bill

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 27th March, 2012

There’s so much Hollywood crap being screened in British cinemas these days — as well as a few, genuinely worthwhile products of the Sunshine State — that it’s sometimes hard to realise just how much really good British film there is around. The French and the South Koreans protect their domestic film industry in the sense that they set quotas for their home-grown product in cinemas or on TV, to make sure it isn’t swamped by a tsunami of American pap. I’m not suggesting that such restrictive measures are necessarily appropriate for the UK, but I do wish the Coalition government would champion British film production more. Everyone knows the blockbusters, like The King’s Speech, or (for nostalgia) Three Weddings and a Funeral. But there is a lot of good stuff being issued now that deserves promoting more strongly. On Saturday evenig, I went to see Dexter Fletcher’s Wild Bill, which is an excellent example of truly worthwhile, extremely British cinema realité:  both confronting social issues in deprived, drug-and-crime ridden areas of London, such as parts of Newham, and at the same time portraying elements of parent-child responsibilities and bonding (which are universal) in a magnificently intimate, sensitive and significant way. This is not a movie full of stars from either side of the Atlantic, but the performances of Charlie Creed-Miles as the ex-con father and Will Poulter and Sammy Williams as his two sons are beautifully pitched. The vision of East London from the upper floor of a grotty tower-block in Stratford, gazing down on the Olympic site, is expertly projected as a metaphor for the widening gap in the reality of rich and poor, aspirational and dejected, homely and alienated. Yet this is a film that does not try to establish or defend moral values. No-one is in the film is truly good or truly bad; all are in shades of grey, which has left some American critics bemused. But I suspect most European and indeed South American audiences will “get” this. Highly recommended. A real treat, which may not garner any Oscars, but which will win its place in the rosta of fine British cinema.

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