Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Aiden Gillen in Still
"Blake - who also wrote the script - has ideas with potential but he needs to get a firmer grip on his genre and pacing in future projects."

Simon Blake's debut feature begins with the sound of a car crash and then a series of scene-of-crime photos showing a teenager who has been the victim of a hit and run. It's an appropriate way to start a film that concerns itself with snapshots of the life of the teen's father Tom Carver (current Game Of Thrones hot property Aidan Gillen) some time after his son's death.

The idea initially fuels the sense of dislocation felt by Tom, visiting his son's grave regularly with his ex-wife (Amanda Mealing) and trying to get on with his life as a photographer. But the idea soon leads to too much fragmentation - as though a box of photos from a film noir have somehow become mixed up with those from a box marked "character study" and, more awkwardly for a film being marketed as a thriller, a large amount of photos from the album marked "soap opera". The scoring and musical cues add to the film's problems, vacillating between mawkish ballads, industrial electronica and melancholic jazz.

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The main thrust of the narrative is Tom's chance encounter with a local youth (Sonny Green) that leads to an increasing spiral of intimidation, but there is also a subplot involving the fatal stabbing of a teenager in a fight over football and Tom's growing connection to the murdered boy's younger brother (Joseph Duffy). Tom's journalist pal Ed (Jonathan Slinger) gets embroiled in the mix due to his friendship, a plea from Jimmy's mum and an awareness of the ineffectuality of the police.

The teenagers are too shadowy to give a real sense of threat. We glimpse them at the edges of the frame occasionally but there is never even the vaguest sense of motive. The female characters are also thinly drawn. Given that Tom's house is a total mess and he seems to pass out from drink as frequently as going to bed it's hard to believe that not only would his ex-wife retain such a huge amount of sympathy for him but that he would have also persuaded the drop-dead gorgeous Christina (Elodie Yung) to consider him a catch. Despite this, Gillen sells the character's conflict, cocksure on one level but being eaten up on the inside and ready to lash out. Young actor Green is also very good when the story, belatedly, turns to him, his mixture of bravado and pain mirroring that of the older star.

Towards the end, just as a character asks, "Is that as real as it gets?" and you find yourself nodding sadly in agreement, the film begins to take shape, finally offering the kinds of tension, motivations and secrets that it could have made better use of much earlier in the runtime. Blake - who also wrote the script - has ideas with potential but he needs to get a firmer grip on his genre and pacing in future projects.

Reviewed on: 08 May 2015
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A grieving father gets mixed up in a feud with a gang of teenagers.
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Director: Simon Blake

Writer: Simon Blake

Starring: Aidan Gillen, Jonathan Slinger, Elodie Yung, Amanda Mealing, Sonny Green, Kate Ashfield, Joseph Duffy, Caroline Ford, Sam Hazeldine, Pedro Caxade, Eddie Bagayawa, Hannah Blamires, Chris Cowlin, Ali Currey, Cathal J. Ferris

Year: 2014

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


EastEnd 2015

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