Meal Deal


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Meal Deal
"Martin McCormick's turn is a good one, Jackson's various interactions as he does his rounds a series of vignettes - life at the sharp end."

A "meal deal" is apparently 3g for £100. Jackson's trade is a little more diversified, he's got a wide clientele - indeed, variety is the spice of life, even starting with the posters on his wall. Celtic, Brazil, Scotland, Rizla. Throw in domestic (abuse) noises from downstairs and we've got a very particular portrait - in some communities it seems the only ways out for young men are crime and football. Jackson is in one of them.

It opens with him Cossack-dancing, a lot of effort to go nowhere - a dream sequence, we discover, waking to that flag-filled bedroom, thumping from downstairs. Martin McCormick's turn is a good one, Jackson's various interactions as he does his rounds a series of vignettes - life at the sharp end. For all his self-employment he seems a dealer who needs better rules, better procedures - every one of his encounters, the glamour-girl with WAG dreams, the pill-heads obsessed with the cyclical nature of history, hot-boxing with a priest, the dirty cop, the enforcer with loosely specified connections and extended credit, the girlfriend, the football star, the chance - we learn more about Jackson, his dreams, even his talents.

Russel Davidson writes and directs, makes good use of Jackson's office in a variety of Glasgow locations, including a lovely bit of association by insinuation that neatly manages to identify the club that Jackson's footballing client plays for without actionable reference to brand-furniture. David Walshe's "Father O'Shea" neatly manages to be both wise counsel and a terrible warning, and, as Jackson's fame-obsessed girlfriend, Amiera Darwish manages to convey several varieties of scorn. Though only briefly present, Ailsa Courtney is a convincing rival for Jackson's affections, but it's clear that the demands of dealing are what's really driving him.

There was a groundbreaking bit of sociology, a study of LA crack dealers, which discovered they risked all manner of trouble for income that only approached minimum wage. For all the cash he's handling (and handing over), his three mobiles on their lanyards, he's cruising streets in what might as well be a rep-mobile, a company car, and those Blackberry medallions are more leash than triumph.

There's an inevitability to Meal Deal - perhaps even an odd taste in the mouth - it's got all the components one would expect, aspirations and reversals, moments of comedy, moments of terror, but while it's got moments of novelty and an impressive cast it feels like more of the same. That's not to denigrate it - it's well made, well fitted together, but it feels a bit too convenient, a bit too much like something we've had before, and as such it just doesn't satisfy.

Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2013
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Jackson works long hours selling cocaine, trying to escape from poverty.

Director: Russell Davidson

Writer: Russell Davidson

Starring: Martin McCormick, Amiera Darwish, Ailsa Courtney, David Walshe, Ryan Fletcher, Scott Fletcher, Stuart Littleford, Gary McCormack

Year: 2012

Runtime: 20 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Glasgow 2013

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