City Of Tiny Lights

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

City Of Tiny Lights
"Not a satire on the aspirations, colonial hangovers and intuitive racism of the Asian community in England's fraught and fractured land, but a detective story cluttered with high school nostalgia."

Where is Philip Marlowe when you need him?

"What's he saying?"

Copy picture

"Not a lot"

Pause...

"He's dead."

Raymond Chandler would have done better.

Mean streets - tick! Ciggies - tick! Whisky off the rocks - tick! Beautiful dames - tick! Baffling plot line - tick!

End of...

There is no wit, no style and a whole lot of mumbled dialogue. Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed), the Pakistani-British private eye, working out of a scabby office in an ethnically dark no-go area of this city of tiny lights - poetic licence in a bleak rainscape? - has a dad who tells him, "You learn everything about life from the game of cricket," as well as the key to survival - "Always remember where your off stump is."

Surprisingly this is not a satire on the aspirations, colonial hangovers and intuitive racism of the Asian community in England's fraught and fractured land. It is a detective story, cluttered with high school nostalgia.

A man lies in his own blood on the floor of a cheap hotel room. A woman called Melody (Cush Jumbo) hires Tommy to find out what happened to the East European prostitute who was with him.

Chandler exposed the corrupt dysfunction of L.A's upper classes. Patrick Neate is doing the same in London at a lower level.

Marlowe's personal life was always a mystery. Not so Tommy's. In a series of flashbacks his teenager years are exposed - gang camaraderie, illegal pranks, a budding romance with his best pal's bird, tragedy, bad karma and the residue of wreckage. Trouble is the boy playing young Tommy looks nothing like him. Ditto the girl who grows up into Billie Piper. If you are not au fait with the modern technique of flashing the past into the present without a warning you will be utterly confused.

Ahmed has the looks, the sex appeal and the strong silent vibe. Tommy's trademark is a Zippo lighter and the ability to swallow his words so that you can't understand a thing.

The film is two stories at a single crime scene.

P.S. the weather doesn't help.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2017
Share this with others on...
Crime thriller sees a PI from the Pakistani community of London's dark lands become embroiled in a missing person case.

Festivals:

London 2016

Search database: