Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Reading the promotional material for, one might expect it to be a one-trick pony. Heist movies are popular, right? So how about a heist movie with girls? Flashy clothes, a bit of nudity, some tough-girl action to keep the feminists quiet, plus Tarantino-influenced fast cutting and chronological playfulness. It ought to be an easy sell. In fact, is all those things - and correspondingly weak in predictable ways - but it's also a great deal more. A combination of strong acting and astute writing gives us four distinct characters any one of whom would be strong enough to carry a film on her own.

First up is Shannon (Ophelia Lovibond). She's sullen, distant yet needy, struggling to cope with a dysfunctional family and a painful secret. She reacts as many teenagers do, cutting herself and creating cheesy graffiti art, yet this doesn't undermine the sense that she's in real pain. Unfortunately, her vulnerability makes her an easy target for some very unpleasant people. Cassandra (Tamsin Egerton), by contrast, seems to have it all going for her: she's a willowy blond piano prodigy with rich parents and a secret romance. Unfortunately this doesn't work out the way she anticipated, and her naivety gets her into deep trouble.

Copy picture

Next is Kerrys (Shanika Warren-Markland), the bad girl of the group, a tough-talking high-kicking lesbian disinclined to take shit from anybody. Her rough and tumble approach to life makes her fun to watch, but she too has her weaknesses, most notably insecurity about her relationship with her father (the way these young women are positioned in relation to patriarchal role models brings an interesting dimension to their assumption of traditionally male roles and behaviours, especially in the context of a crime drama). And finally there's Jo (Emma Roberts), ostensibly the most ordinary of the group, whom many viewers will identify with. Her life is all about compromises for the sake of friends and family, and interminable nightshifts at the local supermarket, building towers out of chewing gum packets because there's nothing else to do. She's the weakest character, but her weakness seems appropriate, reminding us how young these girls are and how easily they can get out of their depth.

Its unusual format aside, the plot within which these characters interact is essentially very simple. A low-level street gang have been commissioned to conceal and pass along some stolen diamonds; the girls get involved, one by one, through a series of unlikely yet believable coincidences. The bad guys exchange macho posturing and shout a lot, trying to recover the stones; and then there's Michelle Ryan as a formidable assassin whose presence alongside these lowlifes never quite makes sense. Although there's quite a bit of sex and violence, the moral messages of the film seem clearly aimed at young adults, who will also be more forgiving of its cheesy ending. But there's plenty to enjoy for viewers of any age, with close-up claustrophobic camerawork as the tension builds exploding into dramatic action sequences.

With a more sophisticated structure and less sophisticated plot than writer Clarke's previous efforts, this won't appeal to all his fans but is nevertheless a hugely impressive effort from someone still only in his early thirties, and a great advertisement for its capable cast.

Reviewed on: 12 May 2010
Share this with others on... packshot
Four young women unwittingly get caught up in the violent aftermath of a diamond heist.
Amazon link

Director: Noel Clarke

Writer: Noel Clarke, Mark Davis

Starring: Ophelia Lovibond, Shanika Warren-Markland, Tamsin Egerton, Emma Roberts, Noel Clarke, Michelle Ryan, Mandy Patinkin, Alan Mckenna

Year: 2010

Runtime: 102 minutes

Country: UK


Search database:

Related Articles:

A rising star is born