The story's central character Billy Sheers, runs away from Manchester to hide out on the mean streets of south London. He's hiding from his ex girlfriends dad 'Brian Burns' a big time gangster from the north of England.
SouthSide's main protagonist is a young lad from Manchester called Billy Sheers who is definitely a sandwich or two short of a picnic. He has escaped form the northern city and traveled south to London in the hope he can make a new start for himself in the big smoke. Billy is on the run and hiding out because the notorious northern gangster Brian Burns wants his head on a stick for impregnating his one and only daughter. While hiding out, Billy runs into a series of unsavory characters on the rough streets of south London. They all seem to take advantage of his lack of intelligence and mistreat him in one way or another. Billy confides in one person on his lonely journey, an Irish street tramp called 'Charlie Slaney'. Charlie is also in a spot of trouble with a local street hood who is hot on his trail. There is only one way to go for Billy and Charlie and that's Southside. Written by
M. J. McMahon
The first thing that struck me on beginning to watch Southside was the music. The melancholy guitar effectively set the tone for the rest of the film. I too often find the use of contemporary music quite distracting and sometimes detached from the imagery and narrative, but this soundtrack suited well and didn't overwhelm. As the film starts the style is confidently established, a simple fish out of water story that effortlessly also serves as an urban adventure that one can relate to and a glimpse into an unlikely friendship, be it fleeting or potentially long term.
The opening scenes, and recurring scenes between the 2 leads, make great use of a small space, the camera was nicely intimate and innovative with short nervy shots that suit the nature of the initially uncomfortable encounter.
The atmosphere of how a crowded city like London is ultimately very isolating and lonely for an individual is captured instantly in the 2 lead characters brief but telling stories of how they both came to be there. I always appreciate a film, especially a short that makes the most of London, and it being such a sprawling location I like how Southside closes in, avoiding the temptation to stray and focus on big buildings and long high streets that we see all too often in city set shorts.
With it's subtle humour ,and not so subtle in one funny yet unattractive instance, the film maker here understands the distinction between making light of a bleak situation and in a typically British tradition smartly drawing comedy out of everyday misery. It also doesn't stray into what some call gritty territory, seems most can do gritty but fewer can do satisfyingly funny yet natural and intimate. The 2 leads are strong and likable, both portraying naivety and weariness in their contrasting ways, never forcing their dialogue. The supporting cast could be a little less exaggerated and don't appear natural enough in their few lines, but this doesn't particularly hurt the overall film. I would've perhaps liked to have seen the film end a little closer to the final action, but I am one for open endings in shorts as opposed to ones that tie scenarios unrealistically neat and quick.
I definitely recommend watching Southside especially to those interested in British and short film. It's strengths lie in the perfecting of the basics, such as characters, dialogue, impact, original visuals and entertainment, which so many overlook.
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