Generally the Italians and the Irish take the cake for highly impressive organized crime. However, debut feature-writer/director Ben Wheatley is here to confirm that the Brit’s, too, have plenty of dysfunctional, law-breaking families lurking through their streets. Starring real life father and son Bob and Robin Hill, Down Terrace opens with a limited release this Friday.
Check out the review below…
- Writer/Director: Ben Wheatley
- Producer: Andy Starke
- Editor: Robin Hill
- Cast: Robert Hill, Robin Hill, Julia Deakin, David Schaal, Tony Way, Kerry Peacock
The film opens with Bill and Karl (father and son) being released from from jail in Brighton’s Down Terrace. Patriarchs of a small crime family, their “business” is infested with in-fighting. With vague knowledge of an unidentified informant in their midst (with information that could easily send them back to prison) anxiety is high and no one can be trusted.
- Tone: Though spiked with sharp, dark humor, the film is ultimately one of suspense and paranoia. This idea is well executed in both the writing and camera work. The docu-style handheld cinematography, the dim color palette, and the quick but slightly incoherent dialogue exchanges keep the audience questioning – which is Wheatley’s primary objective. All aspects of the film compliment and reinforce the overall tone of his piece.
- Performances: Bill and Karl are played by real-life father and son, so noting their chemistry is a bit redundant. I will, however, note that both performances involved highly fluctuating emotion – from subtle, indirect exchanges to random outbursts of swearing and hysterics.
- Well Written Suspects: There are a number of potential “suspects” – the seemingly harmless Karl, a business associate who never stops mooching, Valda, Karl’s recently knocked up on and off girlfriend, etc – none of them appear outwardly questionable, so your itching and itching for more information.
- Too Many Questions: The key to a good suspense film is the “unraveling”. Keep the audience on their toes, but throw them a bone every so often to keep them amused. We’re aware that crime is occurring and lives are at risk, but we never find out what sort of work these people are actually involved in. This is most likely an attempt to keep the focus centered on the dysfunctional family relationships – which is great, given that these characters are very well written. But you’re more interested in logistics of the “business” than the melodramatics of an underachieving son and a preachy father.
Down Terrace provides a fresh spin on the usual “mob-like” releases. If you’re looking for The Departed or The Godfather, save your money. If you’re looking for something with a little more substance, this should hit the spot.
The film has a limited nation-wide release this Friday, October 15th!