A Very British Gangster (2007) Poster

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Less About Gangsters than the Gritty Reality of Poor Manchester.
homer_7617924 April 2008
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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A Very Real Documentary...
Nightmare-Maker24 February 2008
After just watching this very insightful documentary into one of Britains most infamous criminals, Dominick Noonan, I got to say I really did like it.

Dominick Noonan, born, bred and in his own words...will die in Manchester, has been running the city for years, spending more of his life behind bars than on the outside. He has a MASSIVE reputation, and rightfully so, we hear how and what he done to get his rep (to show whos the boss to a rival gang, he cuts a dog's head off and putting it on a pool table in a pub, now known as THE DOGS HEAD, then promptly says next time it will be a human's head)...but he actually comes across as quite a decent guy too...just don't get on the wrong side of him!

He does a lot for the community, offers services to rival the police(people actually get hold of him rather than the police to sort domestic problems i.e noisy neighbours, people who owe money etc, etc... because he is more likely to get the problem sorted with better results), as well as running his own security firm.

All credit to the the film-maker Donal Mcintyre, he follows Dominick around over a period of time, and we get to know a lot of his posse, mainly made up of teenage lads, but some of the questions he gets out of Dominick are unbelievable, anybody else would surely of had a cricket bat wrapped round their head! The documentary also involves Dominics' brother, who was a self-confessed ganglord, who was tragically murdered, and we see the unbelievable scenes where the majority of the city came to a complete standstill on the day of his funeral.

This is a REAL documentary..not a film, so don't expect FOOTBALL FACTORY or RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER, this is real, uncompromising footage of one of Britains most infamous gangsters.
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dominicpearson10 April 2010
It was not till my second viewing of this "documentary" that I discovered that it had been made for Channel 5. This should tell you everything you need - it is cheap, tacky and sensationalised.

The central figure, Dominic Noonan, is a nasty person. A really nasty person. The kind of person that should stay behind bars, the kind of person that should not be allowed to procreate. Throughout the film I could find no discerning characteristics in him. The film maker seemed intent on only showing/talking about the negative aspects (and doing so in a glorified manner). I suspect it is because this thug has no positive qualities at all.

But thats by the by, this is a documentary of sorts so what it shows is the real life thug and the life he leads. Right? Wrong. What we end up with is an extremely biased documentary that only skims the surface of what this moron and his low life scum family are really like. What we get is a piece of work very heavily weighted towards the superficial elements of the Noonans, their background, their extended families, the dreams and aspirations of the younger generation.

The deeper questions are never covered (although I will say that the scene where the brother is asked about any murders he may have committed is quite chilling) and we end up with a fluffy tale about a grown man hanging around with young boys.

The portrayal of this idiot as a gangster is untruthful. Sure, he may be in reality but for the purposes of this documentary we see nothing that can be attributed to a gangster lifestyle in any meaning of the phrase. What we are shown is a nasty, uneducated and extremely unlikeable person who lives off the fear he and his family have created in their own little bubble of a world for years.

In conclusion, therefore, the main problem with this film is not the central character/theme. It is not the lack of brain cells in his extended family. It is the fact that the film maker has focused on pallying up to his subjects and in doing so has lost any objectivity. It is as if he has spent a few weeks with some friends and recorded them playing up to him and the camera. For this reason alone I cannot consider this a true documentary, rather a puff piece made by someone who seems overly enamoured with his subject and the perceived life he leads.
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ultimately fails to deliver the goods on a supposed gangster documentary
besht20032 February 2009
I'll cast in with those who note that if this man is truly a dangerous criminal--and there are for sure hints of this in the reported trials, allegations, arrests, well-attended family cortèges, and police interest--it isn't with the lot of teenage yobs put forward as his entourage in this perplexingly patchwork mash-note of a documentary. The Godfather mediating bit seems like a load of malarkey on the face of it, and if heavy-duty criminality is going on it is going on comfortably off stage, abetted by the infatuated naiveté of the director who has seriously lost his bearings.

A meaningful documentary could have been constructed around Dominick Noonan and a truer balance of the personality of this superficially engaging reported "gangster' presented if the director had decided, truly decided, for himself, whether Noonan is or is not a heavy-weight criminal. If not, then there really is very little point to the film which becomes a delusional record of a poseur; if so, then the director would have been forced to reassess his raw materials that fail to deliver the goods on providing any actual documentary record of that criminality except through a veil of evasive teasers.
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Glorification of a stupid criminal
tuppington5 March 2008
This movie wants the crime boss whoever to be some mythic figure, when he's just top-punk. No insights are made about the nature of crime or poverty. Songs are used over and over again to attempt to make you feel tough when seeing these clownish buffoons. Then they want your sympathy when a man who cannot keep a straight face when asked if murder is wrong, dies.The tone taken is trying to make you look up to this guy when he is just a stupid man hungry for power. I've become very agitated at this documentary and although in some parts, glimpses of the horror this man created, it plays more like a Wikipedia article where entire paragraphs are copied from a biased personal web-page.
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About an idiot, by an idiot, for idiots.
radhrh31 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Its very rare that I choose to stop watching a movie once I have invested a little time in it. However this is one of those occasions when I just couldn't face another half hour of the rubbish being served up to me as a serious documentary.

Domonic Noonan is a failed gangster from Manchester. He has spent a total of 27 years in prison and has nothing to show for it, his family still lives in the same slum of a council estate. He surrounds himself with young, stupid thugs who stand around uncomfortably in ill fitting suits clearly being worn for the first time. He gives it the large one playing the part of a big time hoodlum he clearly isn't and then expects us to believe the story of sexual abuse he suffered as a child, as if that was some kind of justification for his wasted life. He even goes onto say that said abuse was responsible for making him gay! That should have been when I hit the eject button, but wasn't.

I checked out when Noonan attempts to give himself more "legitamacy" by linking his dead brother, another failed gangster, and by extension himself with the IRA bombing in Manchester of June 1996 when 212 people were injured.

What sort of an idiot gives a platform to this kind of self deluded fantasist without any balancing comment? More frightening, what sort of idiot will watch it?
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Very good overview of Manchester life.......
tommivercetti-119 December 2008
In my personal opinion this title is an excellent overview of Manchester life, as the title says 'A very British Gangster' which anyone living in Manchester will know fully the reputation the Noonans have. (unlike some of the comments made about them i.e 'Clownish Baffoons'???!!!) Desmond's link to major cities across the country made the Noonan's unique, the fact he had the audacity to start dealing with Gangsters from other cities in the UK made them unstoppable. The documentary also portrays Manchester correctly which in some areas is very poor and slum like

An excellent Film/documentary on life in Manchester, which perhaps doesn't show the full extent of what they are actually capable of !!!!
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Ridiculously bad documentary on a harsh reality
DonKowalski9 February 2011
I really don't know what was driving the director to turn a exceptionally interesting set of problems into an almost unwatchable and featherbrained piece of crap.

The gangsters shown to us are actually small time criminals, that come from the most knocked off part of society and never made it out of it. Don't expect anything streetwise either, these people are way beyond that. What you are going to hear are stunningly stupid statements that rather reflect pipe dreams than reality. Surprisingly that is exactly the point, that could have made this an exceptionally good and important documentary. A honest picture of how bad it can get in these so very "social" western societies. Where people are left and forgotten to literally rot in their own trash if they don't fit in.

Instead of showing us the decline of a city, the dark side of unlimited growth and wealth, Donald McIntyre tries to create a Hollywood-like gangster story which simply isn't there. The (over-) dramatization is comparable to such reality-shows as "cops" at best. The scenes and interviews are so awfully overdrawn - it is embarrassing. McIntyre doesn't make a single attempt to put things into perspective. At first you might think he cleverly uses Noonans narcissism to lure him out of cover. But when the first 30 minutes have past and Noonan is still talking trash while McIntyre keeps asking stupid questions you realize that it just won't gain any quality. Instead the pictures are underlined by folk and rock music combined with good but utterly unnecessary camera angles that (i'm afraid) intentionally glorify the whole habitus of these people. Especially the complex pan shots make the scenes look staged and false.

As a previous critic has put very well, you can not always tell the difference between a documentary and the poor copy of a guy-ritchie-film. The entire approach is so amazingly undifferentiated and cheesy, at times i really thought the creator is just making fun of me. McIntyre acts as if he were embedded in a major military operation somewhere in Afghanistan, giving insights that are usually hidden from the public. Yet he is just in the presence of probably the biggest losers England has to offer.

I rate this with two stars, just for some of the pictures shown. Definitely some disturbing and thought provoking stuff. If you make it that far into the movie.

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A definite UK slice of life
udar554 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
An crazy look at Dominic Noonan, heir apparent of gang family in modern day Manchester, England. Noonan is a brutish looking individual who wields a lot of power on pure tradition, which makes this profile all the more interesting when it is said that Noonan is openly gay. Compared to US gangsters, Noonan and his crew of (mostly) teenagers might seem like the Spinal Tap of the underworld as they drive around and settle little squabbles. But I think helmer Donal MacIntyre is intentionally going soft on Noonan here as he tends to overlook Noonan's shady investments and downplay his crimes (including a torture attack that sounds particularly vicious). The crew is "lucky" enough to have Noonan's older brother (and reputed hit-man) get murdered while they were in production so they get to cover that as well. This also works as a nice way to compare the US vs. UK legal system as the documentary claims Noonan has been convicted of more than 20 armed robberies (including a hilarious jail bust in order to do robberies), yet still he is let out of prison.
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I thought it was a spoof
happycarrot6810 April 2017
To be fair after watching this for about 20 minutes I thought this was a David Brent, Office type spoof documentary about someone believing they were a gangster. One of the most cringe-worthy things I have ever seen, a bloke living in a terraced house in Manchester,driving a clapped out Volvo with a posse of 17 year old boys in TK Max suits parading behind him. The only reason to watch this is for a good laugh at an individual who takes himself seriously where viewers wouldn't in any sense of the word and seems to believe he really is some crime lord. The more this (mock) documentary goes on the more you find yourself just wondering what the film makers are seriously thinking...are they taking the pi55 and mocking this individual (my guess is yes) or making a genuine insight? Ricky Gervais has nothing on this fella
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Interesting albeit stupid
Joe Day13 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Just caught this on Netflix and I must say it shows that, like those other scum bags, the Krays (or Capone even), so-called gangsters are and just scared cowards and momma's boys and the fact that they are openly gay makes it even more bizarre.

I am sick of the excuse that they have to do this to survive. That we have a reputation to withhold. And I note that in Britain (Scotland, Ireland), the relationship between parents and adults is appalling. No one seems to have any respect for their parents and do whatever they damned-well please (smoking at 8 years old etc.) and the attitude is oh, well, what can you do? The idea that children can actually be negatively influenced in sitting around with adults while they brag of crime, curse to high Heaven, etc. is disgusting as well.

There just seems, on these "Estates" to be an overwhelming stench of debauchery, incest and more. Like the gay Kray brothers, who were reported to be sadists in their romantic pursuits, I figure there is more to Dominick as well in that area. He obviously likes them young. His rationalization foe being gay is curious as well. He basically says he is gay because from an early age he was repeatedly gang raped. Huh?

And the whole Catholic thing is nauseating as well. What is it about that religion that its followers feel perfectly "free" to do all kinds of sinful acts and then think they can go and "confess" and it is all over --- until, As Noonan himself says, tomorrow when I do it again?

You get a totally cartoon funeral for older bro Desi, knifed to death by some crack dealer he was trying to intimidate but who apparently had not gotten the memo on who he was messing with. And of course, The Noonans will not accept that this guy probably had every right to off their brother and even have it announced at the funeral that vengeance will be theirs, not God's. The did, however, say it "respectfully" since they were in church and all. And then the priest asks God to forgive all Desi's bad deeds and let him into Heaven. Oooooookay....

And, the cortege is led by pipers and cops and firefighters. On the take? Schools and businesses close etc. - just like for Al Capone.

The family supposedly took in millions but you won't really see that here. They all look like classic trash that had been on the dole for generation. Everybody looks like they need a bath and after all those sausages, eggs and beans, what the place must smell like ....

Did they know ANY girls at all? All I saw was one of Dom's obvious tricks running around in a t-shirt that says "slow suck." I suppose, in different outfits, these boys would be the notorious Scallies who turn tricks in between mugging foreigners or making bad amateur porn and in general creating havoc for the hell of it.

As is the case in real-life Britain today, fathers are virtually non-existent, and when they are, almost always in a cuckolded way; sad drunks for whom neither wife nor children have any respect. And the dads know it and accept that too.

This film, and its depiction of Britain, make the U.S. look better and better and I cherish what we have here and can understand why we left. I pray we do not become like that; generations of bums content to do anything, say anything, and justify it in the name of survival and then expect God to understand as well.

Interesting if only to illustrate how not to live and who not to idolize. Capone used to hand out turkeys too and even Hitler had a mother, but so what?
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Convincing Documentary...
acrotty27 November 2008
Manchester is his own. Dominic Noonan is represented as the "owner" of Manchester in this convincing documentary. It is everything but Hollwood, as thats what it's not to be. He portrays the stereotypical British criminal, although in his sidekicks' own words "I wouldn't say we are criminals." 'A Very British Gangster' says everything that is needed to be known. Very British, very stereotypical British gangster like. Suited up, no matter how cheap they look, their gold chains and rings and just a simple run through of Dominic Noonan's life, exploiting all his plus and negatives, even if you find them all negative, they are all very interesting to find out about.

Recommend, in the eyes of a Media Studies Student.
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