Archive for June 7th, 2010

“4 Girls, 3 Days, 2 Cities, 1 Chance”

The way the title and tagline overlap is a neat trick but I think they were running out of ideas by the time the got to the 1 but it still works.

On a Sunday evening a girl is stood on Westminster bridge with a handful of diamonds looking like she is about throw herself off. Just then three other girls arrive we rewind to Friday when the four collage friends meet up for coffee and to catch up. As they go their separate ways the story is split into four stories showing what happens to the girls over the three days and how each of them end up on the bridge. Along the way the diamonds keep cropping up mainly in news reports of the robbery (that in Reservoir Dogs style happed off camera) but the diamonds are only a small part of what happens to the four friends. The real story is how each of them deal with adversity over the three days. Shown back to back the stories all stand alone but overlap making sense of each other in the same way as Go (1999).

The movie has two directors, Noel Clarke and Mark Davis. Clarke is also the writer and appears in the movie, he has been kicking around the industry for just over ten years mainly appearing in British TV shows and is probably most recognisable from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Doctor Who. In 2006 he wrote Kidulthood, a gritty look at a day in the life of troubled teenagers in west London. Two years later he made his debut as director on the sequel Adulthood, the movie catches up with the characters six years later. So is more of the same? Yes and no, more no than yes! It again deals with teenagers in London (the age of the four main characters isn’t mentioned but around 17 or 18 is implied) but that’s where the similarity ends, this movie is more frothy and disposable than Clarke’s other work but it is also more fun.

The reason the movie works so well is the compelling characters. Where the girls could easily come across as self absorbed there is something about them that makes you care about what happens to them. This is probably the believability of the emotion on display from the young actresses. The movie is occasionally let down by some questionable dialogue, the odd bit of hammy acting and a thin plot but this is soon forgotten as we move on to the next great scene. Often at odds with itself, the film has many events that appear to empower women, but said women are very sexualised and spend lots of time walking around in their underwear (or less). Again it gets away with it mainly because the characters are caricatures removing the plot a step or two from reality. This also negates the question, would these very different girls really be friends in the real world?

All four actresses Emma (daughter or Eric) Roberts, Tamsin Egerton, Ophelia Lovibond, Shanika Warren-Marland do a good job and are well supported by the rest of the cast. Writer/director Noel Clarke gives himself one of the best parts playing Tee, who is arrogant and cocky, probably great fun to play. The casting of Kevin Smith is inspired, not only is he funny and engaging in his small part but it is also opportune given his recent airline incident that happened after he shot the scene. Michelle Ryan’s part is little more than a cameo but the character could easily be fleshed out for her own movie or a larger part in a sequel.

Looking more Hollywood than Clarke’s more gritty movies is a good thing but I can’t help feeling the New York scenes and the casting of an American actress (as an American living in London) are slightly unnecessary and only there to help give the movie a toehold on the lucrative American market. If that’s the case it is no bad thing, there is nothing wrong with ambition. There is also another element to the movie, without turning itself into an “issue movie” it does bring up the problem of blood/conflict diamonds. It is an interesting way of slotting a serious issue into the movie and is quite effective.

A fun and often funny movie, it has its problems but is actually a little smarter than people are giving it credit for. And the standout performance Ophelia Lovibond (yes that is her real name) I expect to see a lot more of her in the next few years.

Four Stars out of Five


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