London to Brighton' is Paul Andrew William's first feature length film. It's about a prostitute called Kelly (Lorraine Stanley) and a young homeless girl named Joanne (Georgia Groomes) who go on the run from pimp Derek (Johnny Harris) for reasons that I won't reveal because it might spoil you enjoyment of this nasty little film.
There are no heroes to be found here, no beautiful moments (with the exception of the final frame) just a lot of squalid violence and social decay.
There are many things that baffle me about this great country of ours; our obsession with celebrity non-entities, our persistent tea drinking, or constant discourse about the weather, our weak and self serving politicians, and why when a half decent British movie is released, the sycophantic press hype it up so much, and raise expectations so high, that should any one actually bother to watch it, they will leave feeling let down.
Unfortunately, 'London to Brighton' is not, as the critics would have you believe, the best thing since sliced bread. It is not a classic British thriller; it is not by any stretch of the imagination; a 5 Star, Grade A, piece of filmic genius. It is however a solid, if unspectacular, foray into the seedy side of life on the streets of our nations capital, and beyond.
The first thing that hits you about this film is it's gritty style, William's goes for the hand held look, but not in a gimmicky way, the camera shakes and wobbles but no so much that it takes your mind off the film. The camera is up close and personal with the characters, rarely more than a few inches away from the sweaty, putrid monsters; that are barely recognisable as human beings.
It's a style of filmmaking that some viewers will find off putting, as there is no wall between the film and the viewer. You are sucked into their world, and you are left dirty and downtrodden because of it.
As the story develops, a series of flashbacks occur to flesh out the missing pieces of the fractured plot (although I suspect most people will already have guessed the details of events that lead to the girls fleeing London).
The movie is anchored by the very strong performances from Lorraine Stanley as the duplicitous Kelly, and Johnny Harris as the low grade Pimp with a psychotic limp and an eye for amorality.
Generally the story moves along swiftly, in a predictable but nonetheless gripping and satisfying way. The dialogue is lazily over reliant on profanity, but manages to stay the right side of authentic and interesting.
A suspension of disbelief is recommended for anyone watching this movie. For example; Derek storms into random persons flat, holds them all hostage for a couple of hours with a shotgun, and then lets them go, yet they don't call the police? It's artistic license gone a little too far, and this lack of common sense harms the film throughout.
Another low point of 'London to Brighton' is the mob boss, Stuart Allen, who is so flat, two dimensional and uninspired that all his scenes drag the film down into a pit of spurious nonsense. Sam Spurell, the actor who plays Stuart, was obviously aiming for a menacingly understated performance, unfortunately what we got is just plain dull.
Overall, 'London to Brighton' has its moments. It's gritty, the direction is very good. The performances from most of the cast are excellent and for the large part it manages to avoid all those cockney clichés that have plagued British thrillers since the dawn of Guy Ritchie.
It's a good film, with plenty of flaws but overall an excellent first effort from Williams.