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Less About Gangsters than the Gritty Reality of Poor Manchester.
Overly long and without much unifying message, A Very British Gangster will surely leave many scratching their heads. Americans usually have a entirely different view of what a "British Gangster" would be. These guys seem to be minor characters in a Guy Ritchie movie. Rather than wearing three piece suits and driving expensive cars, the Noonan family make their living exploiting the down trodden members of Manchester in their cheap clothes and fake gold jewelry.
We really don't get to see the true underbelly of what life is like as a gangster in Manchester. The gang spends its time posing on street corners, making idle threats and generally looking like a bunch of kids trying to emulate the real deal. But we do get a sense that there is much more below the surface. We never meet the real gangsters we expect to find but they seem to lurk in the corners the film doesn't explore. The Noonans seem to be putting on a show for the cameras, allowing only their teenage goons to be on camera and their operations limited to settling disputes between the locals. Dominic claims to have stolen millions of dollars, but the whole gang is still stuck in near poverty, living in small flats and proud of their meager possessions.
This movie is less a study on a British crime boss and more a look at the gritty reality of the poor urban centers of Britain. Places where small time crooks can still make money on petty crimes and instilling fear in the local community. The Noonans are playing a game that is getting increasingly harder to win at. Many of the kids have dreams to do something different with their lives. One wants to be an actor, another a singer, another just to escape Manchester. Unfortunately, the sad truth is most of the gang, including Noonan's son and God Son, are spiraling down the gutter without any hope or guidance that could help them become anything more than small times thieves; destined to spend most of their adult lives behind bars.
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