Love Story (1999)

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Grim, depressing but soberingly convincing
10 October 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Dave is homeless, living in a public toilet with other crack users and drunks. Dave gets by with what little he can steal but when his girlfriend goes into labour he has to work to try and get some more readies to get her something nice. He goes out with his mate to try and get some stolen goods and then sell it off to dealers for cash. However in the bleak world of desperate need, selfishness and exploitation nothing is simple.

Prior to watching the film Football Factory, I took the opportunity to watch this early short film from director Nick Love. I'm not sure if the title suggests that this film is very personal to Love or if it is just an ironic title given how totally absent 'love' is from the lives that we are presented with in this very bleak short film. The plot summary above may suggest a narrative but there really isn't one, instead this is more of a look at the lives of drug addicts and the world in which they exist. I say 'exist' instead of 'live' because there isn't life here and that is shown by even the baby that arrives into the world being given a one-way ticket to hell with little or no chance. The film is relentlessly bleak and it offers no solutions, silver lining or hope. The characters are horrible, drug-addled, swearing relentlessly and prone to moments of sudden and pointless violence in place of any other form of expression.

The film is delivered with style, which is not totally a good thing. The fancy camera moves and the quick-fire 'geezer' dialogue make it feel a little bit like Lock Stock and that takes something away from the grim reality of the film. And this is a shame because the film is convincingly real – as difficult as that is to accept. This world sees exploitation and use in the place of brotherhood and love and it is horrible to watch. Sexual acts are performed out of basic economic needs and never genuine affection, and friends are only a few seconds from using or abusing each other. As an experience it is very real and it is as close to this life as I ever want to be.

The cast do well but it suffers from being a little full of well-known faces who distract from their characters. Foreman is convincing – all matey one minute, all swearing anger the next; he is frightening because I see him on buses and street corners all the time and he gets his character spot on. The guy playing the taxi driver is not as good because his involvement in this world is not as well developed as that of Dave's but his performance is more subtle. Patsy Palmer is a surprise and her fame takes away from her character – it was hard not to see her as a crack version of her Eastenders character. Support is good but the use of Thewlis and Bremner in such minor roles tends to distract from what they are actually doing and makes you focus on who they are instead.

Overall it is a well-made film that is well written and well directed even if the subject matter doesn't really deserve the geezer style that the film gives it. The cast deliver the goods well even if their fame detracts from the telling a bit but otherwise it is relentlessly depressing and grim even if it realistic and convincing. Hardly a fun night in but a good look into this world for those that want to look there.

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