2008 Running time: 86 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Writer-director Eran Creevy's accomplished debut follows the misfortunes of a pair of estranged schoolpals over 24 hours that will see their friendship strained to breaking point. Shifty (Riz Ahmed) is a successful smalltime dealer who last saw Chris (Daniel Mays) four years before. A cautionary tale of youthful hope squandered, this follows a familiar path but manages to transcend the clichés of the hackneyed geezer template thanks to a needle-sharp script and a couple of considered performances from the two leads.

Director

  • Eran Creevy

Cast

  • Riz Ahmed

  • Daniel Mays

  • Jason Flemyng

Review

"Yor avin' a larf aintcha? A geezer caper vat doesn't make ya wanna frow yourself dahn the apples and pears?"

Well, would you Adam and Eve it.
While not perfect, this low-life Brit-gangster saga retreads well-worn ground but it does so with a light step of authentic panache seldom seen on Planet Ritchie and its satellites.

Shifty (Ahmed) is a young, suburban hipster who, despite an academic haul of four A-Levels, prefers to work the streets as a slick drug dealer pulling in as much as 3,000k a week. It's sweet. He's sorted.
That is until Chris (Mays) pitches up at the Terry & June-style semi he shares with his self-righteously sensible brother (after his conservatively ambitious Pakistani parents threw him out).
Chris looks furtive. He has a secret. Something to do with a girlfriend who OD'd on pills he may - or many not - have slipped her four years before. Anxious and apprehensive, it's the first time he's been back.
Welcomed unconditionally by Shifty, the pair resume their old pal's act and head out into the sunshine to do the rounds of Shifty's dope-dependent clients, the middle class weekend snorter and the desperate cat-loving biddy with her nerves in shreds.
However, somewhere up the rickety chain of dope demand, somebody is trying to rip somebody else off...and Shifty looks like he may be carrying the can.
For a debut feature, Eran Creevy's semi-autobiographical drama shows a remarkably light touch, set in an anonymous London suburbia far removed from stereotypical East End of the wideboy film tradition.
Chris and Shifty josh and bicker like real people while the supporting players - Shifty's devious supplier (Jason Flemyng) and his wary brother Rez (Ganatra) - are slickly drawn.
There's also room for a all-too-real sub-plot featuring a married building contractor and family man hopelessly addicted to cocaine to be seamlessly worked in, giving an electric jolt to the narrative.
Dealing with the tightly-wound bond of Asian families as well as familiar themes likes tested loyalties, thwarted ambition and youthful naivete, it's richly satisfying fare.
It's also funny when it needs to be. Mays is an slick comic actor when required and the vein of mordant wit that runs through never allows the drama to descend into a dour cul-de-sac.
Nice one.

Tim Evans

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