An interesting film from little-known director Shane Meadows, this is the second in the Nottingham trilogy - the other two films being twentyfourseven and the much more mainstream Once Upon a Time in the Midlands. It was co-written by Ian Fraser and Meadows.
The film, like Meadows' other work is centered around his home city of Nottingham, and has a very local and lifelike feel. There is no glamour here, people live in inter-war semis, they fetch their tea from the chippy, they drive rusty old cars - not the comic rusty cars of Hollywood, but very real examples.
Acting is performed by a mix of trained actors, and suitable locals - who are often reused between Meadows' films. Bob Hoskins makes a reappearance, having also appeared in twentyfourseven, but many of the actors are obviously picked off the street. Dialogues can seem a little wooden, but also have a natural delivery which trained actors seem to lose.
Because of the real-life feel of the film, the drama is good, violent scenes are truly frightening - we don't have "bang bang you're all dead" gunfights here, we have real, raw violence - but the comedy is also heartfelt and touching. Look out for the scene involving the (ahem) gentlemen's literature.
Romeo and Gavin are neighbours. The two twelve-year-olds have a special friendship - discussing life, the universe, and everything while they wander about the Nottinghamshire countryside and city. One day, they are set upon by a gang of older lads, and a stranger comes to their assistance. He is an odd and naïve man, perhaps a little simple, in his non-matching clothing, and his olive drab mini van.
Seeming kindly, but eccentric he enters the boys' lives, and makes a move for Romeo's sister. When he is rejected, things turn for the worst and life becomes exceedingly complicated. He is not quite the nice chap we thought - and has a rather dark, sinister side.
The boys' families become involved in the events, and we explore how different people relate to the stresses and strains of life - not only every day, but also exceptional circumstances.
It is a moderately disturbing film - mainly due to its violence, which is, as I have mentioned, quite raw. This is also a warm tale of the frailty of friendships in adverse situations.
It is worth noting that Paddy Considine is excellent in his role - you really wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley!
Meadows himself has an uncredited cameo as the man in the chip shop, who interestingly seems to be one of the people most uncomfortable with their lines.