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Danny Lewis is a DJ (aka DJ D-Biz) and works in a record shop. Head of a small crew, he is lined up for the finals of the Mic Masters free-style competition against the notorious Hard Cash crew. At the same time he meets a stunning girl who seems to like him, only to find that she is the cousin of Cashflow Money Man's right hand man. While the time he spends with Carmen isolates him from his crew, the impact is nothing compared to the fallout when the relationships come out into the open and the competition final looms.
Life and Lyrics has correctly been labelled as the UK version of 8 Mile but to some this alone has been criticism but personally I do not see this as a bad thing in and of itself. No, something being similar to something else is not a problem on the basis of that fact alone because this in itself doesn't mean that the film won't be good. No, the thing that prevents Life & Lyrics from being any good is that it feels like something that has gone out of its way to be generic and average. The problems almost all stem from the plot. We go through quite familiar threads as we follow the film but mostly it is reasonable enough stuff at a base level. The main thing about the plot is the way it feels it has to throw in death and guns at the end it does it with little meaning and the abrupt nature of the death means we don't have a chance for it to sink in or to be real to the viewer. To be frank it feels like the writer felt it had to be there and just did it for want of anything else.
This maybe annoyed me more than it should have because I was looking for it to do something interesting. Although Cashflow had been the sort of "baddie" of the piece, his own problems meant he had a touch of sympathy from me and I was hoping that the script would deliver something realer, more heart-felt by making the situation the "baddie" rather than a man. As it is it goes for the easy thing and paints the "man" in the baddie role, only to attempt an emotion punch on the viewer. Outside of this we have the unlikely romance and the minor details of the story, all of which rely on the actual script to produce characters and dialogue. Again here it just feels like it has been cut and pasted from other places. The characters don't ring true as they don't seem real their emotions and motivations are simply painted and these blocky people make the blocky plot just seem all the more obvious.
The performances lift it ever so slightly. Walters was much better in Bullet Boy than here and, as much as he tries with his charisma, he doesn't do enough to lift the film. Likewise Rose (formerly of Precious) is very attractive and smooth but doesn't get a character to work with. That said, her being very easy on the eye does help. Together, Walters and Rose look like a good fit but their characters and thus their chemistry doesn't feel nature at all. Patrick Regis is handed an interesting character that offered him potential which he mostly realises as he conveys a sense of being trapped in his debts and by his own front he deserved better as an actor than the narrative handed him. The rest of the actors are so-so as performers but mostly deliver on stage. As with 8 Mile the battle sequences make the film and are cool to listen to but are poorly delivered by the film. The "loser" looks beaten every time (like the director had said "look beaten") and the contest aspect suffers as a result, making it less engaging than its 8 Mile equivalent even if the lyrics are good.
Life & Lyrics ends up being an average film that doesn't seem to aspire to much. The plot and script kill it and nobody can raise it above the obvious and generic level that this places it at. It is not awful but there is little beyond the battles at the end that raise the interest and almost none of it feels real, natural or engaging.
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