The British urban drama gets an intriguing twist in this story of two brothers from an Egyptian family attempting to escape the gang culture that pollutes their East London estate. James Floyd delivers a standout performance as the charismatic Rashid, a smalltime drug dealer who is determined that his younger brother Mo (Fady Elsayed) isn't going to follow in his footsteps. Director Sally El Hosaini has crafted a grimly authentic glimpse into gang lore which also has the courage to tackle the vexed question of sexuality in a risibly macho culture.
Sally El Hosaini
Tackling the reality of British urban gang culture complicated as it is by both race and religion without hitting a wrong note or sliding into cliche has traditionally been a big ask of even the most accomplished director.
So for debut feature helmer Sally El Hosaini to chuck the strict taboo of homosexuality into an already over-complex gangsta stew appears to be throwing dramatic caution to the wind.
Excitingly, her elegant, poetic approach pays real dividends with controversial themes and issues dealt with simply and subtly to provide a genuinely authentic insight into a mob experience that dare not speak its name.
James Floyd plays Rashid, a swaggering East End dealer whose dubious activities cause his doting Egyptian immigant parents sleepless nights but impress his younger brother Mo (Elsayed), a gauche teen at a crossroads in his life.
Rashid's a minor player for the DMG crew (Drugs, Money, Guns)...but he's got all the accoutrements - the bling, the ready cash and the gorgeous, compliant girlfriend.
However, everything changes when his best buddy Izzi (Welsh), a disenchanted gang member who wants out, is knifed to death in a turf confrontation with DMG's arch-nemesis Demon.
Rashid rages but eschews revenge...and gets a job with one of Izzi's contacts, successful French photographer Sayyid (Taghmaoui), who introduces him to a glamorous demi-monde, worlds away from macho gang life.
However, Mo falls into Rashid's vacuum and is recruited as a street level drugs hustler as the war between the rival factions ignites into lethal violence.