Turnout is a homegrown effort rising from the grittier side of East London's trendy Hoxton. Self-aware and as on the make as its lead, it’s an accomplished low-budget debut.

George (George Russo) and Sophie (Ophelia Lovibond) are a twenty-something couple looking forward to a romantic holiday in Barbados. He's a likeable chancer who doesn't work, preferring small-time dealing and partying with his mates. She's from a more affluent family and is set up in a smart City job. Uh oh.

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Sophie's keen to settle the holiday balance with their hard-earned cash-in-a-box savings. George hasn't quite hustled up the readies, though, so secretly takes her share to fund a simple 'buy, cut and sell cocaine' plan to double his money. With turning a profit then proving much harder, his mates extorting freebies and time running out, soon George risks losing both the holiday, his friends and the one he loves.

Debut director Lee Sales collaborated with Russo and Francis Pope (who also stars as George's partner in crime) to expand their short film script by adding George and Sophie’s relationship into the mix. It gives this casual crim story a bit more heart than any number of Lock, Stock & Rip Offs, while keeping the emotional element low key and personal. Russo works well with breaking-through Lovibond (4.3.2.1, Mr Popper’s Penguins) and their shared affection is convincing. Even so, you do to start to wonder why the aspirational Sophie was ever with the loafing George for so long.

Russo plays him with believably aggravated stress levels and he’s helped by a small but game cast of locals. Working with real friends from the areas they’re filming in, Russo, Pope and Sales convey their mouthy camaraderie with some knowing and affection. Still, George finds limited honour amongst them. Standing out from his crowd is Neil (Kill List) Maskell’s Scott, a quietly malicious presence who sums up what George could do without.

They’re small fry really and Sales shows that everyone always has a bigger fish snapping at them somewhere in the pond. We regularly see the City’s monied skyscrapers in the background, looming over and goading the housing estates. This skyline throws everyone’s aggressive drive to get money quick and celebrate the trappings of wealth into a wider relief. There are clear parallels here and in the lessons George learns to the current economic predicament. Perhaps the recent rioting in London and other cities also gives fortuitously added bite to the distinction and similarities between the two. Simple maybe, but it's unpretentiously told.

It’s not all doom and gloom, either, and a modern urban soundtrack with the likes of The Asteroid Galaxy Tour sees things through. Sales certainly knows how to find some choice shots. He has said he took inspiration from the works of Christopher Doyle and Wong-Kar Wai and his cinematographer James Friend has done him proud. They’re ones to watch.

Reviewed on: 30 Sep 2011
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A small-time dealer's plan to make some quick cash backfires.
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Director: Lee Sales

Writer: Francis Pope, George Russo, Lee Sales

Starring: Ophelia Lovibond, Neil Maskell, Ben Drew, Ricci Harnett, Jamie Belman, Kyle Summercorn, Diana Kent, Mieke Dockley, Annie Cooper, Nick Thomas-Webster, Nick Nevern, Peter Ferdinando, Tony Denham, Tilly Vosburgh, George Russo

Year: 2011

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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