Hooked

Hooked

****1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Almost immediately unsettling, intriguing, compelling, with moments of humour mined from a series of uncomfortable seams. Cathy Tyson is Yolanda, the daughter of Anita Dobson's Maggie. There's race, racism, a wider variety of unhealthy practises and thoughts. It's a mess, but hypnotically so. It is very easy to be hooked.

Tyson is great, Dobson too, astonishing exchanges resulting from their interactions. Love in all its forms and intimations of mortality across an estate where most subsist on benefits, one that now boasts a large Muslim population. There are questions unanswered, others painfully so. Midway through an argument Yolanda blurts "it's like you hate half of what I am". "I don't hate all of you" the response, staggering, gobsmacking. The two actresses are brilliant. The depth of activity in their scenes is amazing. For all the subtlety in Alexander Stewart's script and the confidence of Henry Darke's direction it is Tyson and Dobson who make the film. Between them are tensions implied and evident, familial and cultural and ethnic clashes, highlighted by Maggie's new fancy man.

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Hasan, a charming turn from Adeel Akhtar, is another kept by the state. Yolanda asks him "how are you disabled?" "Advanced kleptomania", he responds, and its compelling. His immediate foil is Abdullah, a finely judged performance from Satnam Bhogal. Concerns about behaviour are one thing, but there's a real dark comic subtlety at play - Muslims can't gamble, "but if [we] lose it's charity".

Part of Channel 4's Coming Up scheme the film is meant to demonstrate new writing and directing talent. Stewart and Darke's work is well supported by clear technical competence, Darke eliciting great performances from a good cast built on Stewart's authentic-seeming words. In a powerful 2011 lineup 'Hooked' is an excellent piece of film-making, a sure sign not only that those involved with this film know what they're doing but that the scheme itself goes from strength to strength.

This is a touching, genuinely affecting film. Addictive behaviours, obsessions, the messes that we make of ourselves and each other born from best intentions. Hooked is well worth catching.

Reviewed on: 16 Jul 2011
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A mixed-race woman falls out with her resentful white mother on a turbulent housing estate.

Director: Henry Darke

Writer: Alexander Stewart

Starring: Cathy Tyson, Anita Dobson, Adeel Akhtar, Satnam Bhogal

Year: 2011

Runtime: 25 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2011

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