2012 Running time: 117 Certificate: 18 Not yet rated

Synopsis

In his first crack at screenwriting and directing, rapper Ben "Plan B" Drew makes everyone sit up with a bleak chronicle of crack addicts, pushers, pimps and - to lighten the tone - punk poet John Cooper Clarke. Four Lions' Riz Ahmed plays a small-time dealer and the only character scraping an illicit living in London's East End who seems to have a sliver of moral compassion. Around him seethes a vortex of despair, dysfunction and dead eyes. Played by a cast including impressive newcomers Keith Coggins and Lee Allen, this is a disturbing, violent glimpse into the dark depths of the capital.

Director

  • Ben Drew

Cast

  • Riz Ahmed

  • Natalie Press

  • Dannielle Brent

  • Nick Sagar

  • Ed Skrein

Review

Plan B's East London is a long way from the gleaming stadia of the Olympics and the soaring financial towers of the Square Mile.

It's an urban underclass of pitiful addicts, vicious pushers, predatory pimps, broken-spirited prostitutes, thuggish landlords and, well, little else apart from a sympathetic social worker.

His cast of grim undesirables appear to inhabit a hermetically sealed bubble, cut off from normal life, yet living in the same streets, shopping in the same shops and drinking in the same pubs.

It's also extremely violent, unflnchingly recording the beating of a rebellious prostitute by her Russian handler or a naive teen getting drilled between the eyes after he fatally got out of his depth with the big boys.

However, it doesn't shed light on the reasons or motivations of this neglected generation, preferring to head off down another dark alley with the inevitable beating at the end of it.

Flimsy back stories are painted in - Riz Ahmed's low-level dealer began life in an orphanage - but the other characters are either brutalised extras or the sort of cliches you find pounding the pavements of Albert Square.

The result is like being screamed at by a violent hysteric with anger management problems for more than an hour yet leaving his acquaintance having found out nothing about him.

The appearance of Bard of Salford John Cooper Clarke with a handful of exquisitely honed lines merely throws into relief the one-note crudity of it all.

It's as if Plan B didn't bother with a Plan A.