London to Brighton: Film Review, Certificate 18, £5.79 on Amazon
This is the gritty and bloody tale of a young homeless teen and her prostitute protector desperately trying to escape the clutches of London mobsters. As the film states they must travel from London to Brighton.
I bought this film on DVD at a car boot sale. It had two main selling points – One, being partly set in Brighton, I wondered if I could see my road; the second was the obvious critical success. The tattered box was littered with gold review stars and a stamp stating it was the winner of the esteemed British Independent Film Award for Best Achievement in Production. It was also nominated for three BAFTAS.
The director is a Mr Paul Andrew Williams. The only films I’d seen from him were horror-comedy, The Cottage, and slightly disappointing urban horror, Cherry Tree Lane. The Cottage was actually damn funny (think Shaun of The Dead meets The League of Gentleman meets The Hills Have Eyes but on a farm).
Anyway, I was slightly sceptical, but the cast was solid, albeit not A-list and the opening scene was dark, incredibly well filmed and piqued my interest.
We are presented with two protagonists, Kelly (Lorriane Stanley- Gangster No1), a particularly harrowed looking sex worker with a whopping black eye and Joanne (Georgia Groome- Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging), a very young girl sobbing relentlessly. The two crash into a bathroom toilet and the films takes off from there. Stanley is superb and Groome does well. I was particularly impressed by This is England actor Johnny Harris who plays a right ‘orrible bastard.
The plot is simple and that works perfectly, often jumping between past and present events so enticingly that you don’t mind it being slightly predictable. The correlating timelines culminate in a tense ending that you’ll either have pegged early on or it’ll take you by surprise.
The script is well thought out and realistic. This combined with the locales of council house squalor, drug dens and Brighton’s coastline makes for a surprisingly beautiful film. It’s not for the squeamish mind you; Williams deals with the uncomfortable topics of paedophilia, gang violence and prostitution.
I suppose what really made this an amazing film was it surprises you. It could have been turned into something like Big Fat Gypsy Gangster (yes that’s a real film and yes it’s garbage) but it doesn’t. It is a hard hitting journey that uses heavy tropes to comment on society and the down trodden. It’s much more than your usual crime-thriller.
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves British film, likes an underdog story or those looking to see how decent film can be shot on a £500k budget.
(Oh and no, I never did see my road but you can’t win ‘em all).
Image by Anirudh Koul