You would be forgiven from reading other reviews of this movie for assuming it is a gritty gangster film set in a gritty London council estate. But if you make the effort to check it out you will be rewarded and surprised as it is really nothing of the sort; it is actually a mish-mash of reverential genre-hopping that adds up to a nice slice of entertainment.
Set almost entirely within the confines of the titular housing estate the plot concerns recent jailbird Fast Eddie (Sean Harris) returning to his familiar stomping ground trying to track down an old pal that has won a large sum on a TV quiz show. Eddie needs money desperately to settle a debt to some nasty characters who have already gouged out one of his eyes and intend to relieve him of the other if he doesn't stump up the moulah quick smart. Unfortunately his pal has disappeared so he enrols as Private Dick for the missing pals wife, offering to find out what has happened in return for a payment that gets him, literally, off the fish-hook.
Nicely paced, the film gives us the pleasure of a slow-reveal, as the various characters we meet, who seem random at first, eventually form part of a jigsaw that fills in all the gaps and lead us to a satisfying conclusion. Along this journey we are treated to all manner of movie conceit as a relatively simple idea plays out in a stylish manner that belies it's zero budget and manages to pay homage to the movies in a way that only a director who still feels the thrill of the big screen could manage to do.
We get more than our fair share of Kubrick, especially The Shining; a cute dose of Leone; a sprinkling of David Lynch and, very surprising in a small independent BritFlick, what seems like Wong Kar Wei. It is actually a film for those that like film and some viewers may find it a little pretentious at times but there is enough tension and black humour to sustain most and the cast manage to hold back on the histrionics despite the script giving them plenty of scope to go berserk. Harris is particularly good at this, hesitant and reserved in his delivery he just about gets our sympathy even though Eddie is as much a ne'er do well as most of the inhabitants of this very separate universe. Of course, the other star is the estate itself, more malevolent in the bright sunshine than it has a right to be; this is a directorial gamble that pays off very nicely. With the exception of a scene involving a lift you don't get a real feeling of palpable dread at any time, mainly because the characters are mostly bonkers - but you do really, really want to know what happens.
Saxon could possibly have been a little more compact and some scenes are merely there for fun, but it is a good idea, very nicely shot, well acted and when you think of the tripe that gets cash thrown at it, even in the independent world, you wish Loftin the best of luck to get more films made of this nature. Sassy, flawed but ultimately satisfying the best thing you can say is that it is fine entertainment and well worth the price of admission.
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