2016 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

Past indiscretions lead to uncertain futures as three stories unfold within London's square mile. A former rugby hero (Idris Elba) spirals into self-destruction while his cheated wife (Gemma Arterton) pursues affairs of her own. A young crook with a poetic heart (Franz Drameh) tries to turn his life around after meeting a genial mentor (Ken Stott). And just as a taxi driver (Charlie Creed-Miles) and his wife (Kierston Wareing) are dealing with one piece of bad news, life delivers them another tragic blow. All sides of human nature are revealed in a superbly performed drama reminiscent of the Oscar-winning Crash.

Director

  • Jim O'Hanlon

Cast

  • Idris Elba

  • Gemma Arterton

  • Franz Drameh

  • Charlie Creed-Miles

  • Kierston Wareing

  • Ken Stott

  • Tom Cullen

Review

Ever wondered how Love, Actually might have turned out if Richard Curtis had written it with a hangover?

Wonder no more as director Jim O'Hanlon gets serious after the spoofery of TV's A Touch Of Cloth with this fatalistic but far from dull portmanteau set within London Transport's Zone 1.

Producer Idris Elba unsurprisingly gets top billing as Max, a retired rugby star who was once captain of England but is now captain of his own downfall after being sent to the sin-bin by his wife Emily (Arterton) following a disgraceful, erm, tackle on the kids' nanny.

While he consoles himself with booze, coke and willing young groupies, Emily is also on the rebound with her old university flame, Jake (Tom Cullen). For the children's sake at least, it's clear they need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

No such marital unrest for loveable London cabbie George (Creed-Miles) and his missus Kathy (Wareing). He's a pillar of the community. She'd do anything for anyone. All that's missing from their lives is a child.

Unfortunately, their bid to adopt is derailed when the authorities uncover George's teenage criminal record. But that setback pales into insignificance when George returns to work and fatefully agrees to pick up one last fare...

The third thread follows young offender and amateur verse-writer Kingsley (Drameh) as he looks to broaden his cultural horizons beyond drugs and gangs.

Pressed into community service, Kingsley meets the avuncular Terence (Stott), a respected actor who encourages him to pursue his talent.

Not so much intertwining as loosely brushing against one another, each story successfully explores themes of fate and faith (in the non-religious sense). What they don't share is a satisfactory resolution.

George and Kathy's arc is the most rounded, a touching case of bad things happening to good people.

After bit parts in Attack The Block and Edge Of Tomorrow, Drameh steps up to lead performer with a performance oozing both confidence and charisma. That Kingsley's story is wrapped up rather too neatly is not his fault.

And despite sterling work from Elba and Arterton, the tale of Max and Emily is undermined by the sort of overwrought climax they'd think twice about using in Hollyoaks.

But by virtue of sheer watchability, the pros outscore the cons.

Elliott Noble