Saturday, 5 April 2014

24/7 Twenty Four Seven (1997)

It's been a long time since I last saw this. I  did once have it on VHS when it first came out and, as I seem to be in something of a Shane Meadows marathon at present, I finally picked it up on DVD this week.

I'd forgotten how good it was, because when Twenty Four Seven is good it really is very good. 

Meadows film tells the story of Alan Darcy (Bob Hoskins in what ranks as one of his finest performances alongside The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa) who, on deciding that the young men of Nottingham need something to believe in and work hard for to escape a life of petty crime and drugs, sets up a boxing club.  

Shot in a sulpherous evocative black and white, and occasionally evoking the early style of Scorsese,  the feature debut of Shane Meadows is remarkably sensitive portrait of hopelessness in the desolate post industrial Midlands of the 1990ss, yet through some caustically funny moments he also manages to express the strong spirit and vibrancy that such hard and disadvantaged towns have. From the off Meadows exhibits the flair for light and shade, providing an audience with both the grit and the giggles that would become a trademark throughout his career. It's perhaps best witnessed simultaneously in a scene between Frank Harper and Bob Hoskins that manages to be both bloody and funny, but by the time we reach the pivotal moment between Hoskins and Bruce Jones (Raining Stones and Coronation Street) the laughter stops dramatically and what follows is scarily authentic violence that should be commended if, like me, you're a viewer who believes that violence should be shown to hurt rather than for excitement's sake.

The largely unknown young cast, which included James Hooten, Emmerdale's Sam Dingle, and fat (un)funnyman James Corden to name but two, handle things admirably, but the real star of the show is of course Hoskins who brings a sweetness and conviction to the role that is unsurpassed. It's a shame then that through its rather non linear storytelling - which plays out from reading Darcy's diary - that this central character's journey is in the end rather disjointed and, it could be argued, a little unconvincing and unclear. But that'son the whole a minor criticism for what was a stunning full length debut from Meadows. As he would later go on to prove, with more focus, time, attention and bigger budgets he could truly tell the stories he always wanted to tell. Indeed much of this would figure, one way or another, in his This Is England series - be it character names or outright replications of some scenes.

Director and Star; Meadows &Hoskins

Great soundtrack too.

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