A redemptive coming of age story about a wayward teen, Jamie (Letitia Wright), who is encouraged by an inspiring and unconventional social worker Kate (Shirley Henderson), to use singing as an escape from her troubled background. Jamie's loyalties soon become torn between Kate and her possessive and volatile best friend, Leanne (Isabella Laughland). Written by
Level 33 Entertainment
Urban Hymn, directed by Michael Caton-Jones, is the story of a troubled youth saved by her love of music. That may sound all-too-familiar, but the story of Jamie Harrison is set apart by the quality of the performances, filmmaking and music selection. The stellar work of Shirley Henderson and Letitia Wright is sure to have you fighting back tears at least once as the film moves along, as will Caton-Jones' beautiful shots. Close-ups of sunflowers, trees swaying in the breeze, neon-soaked clubs and London streets are all captured masterfully and the accompanying soul songs do not hurt either. At the heart of Urban Hymn, though, is the relationship triangle of Jamie, her rough best friend (Leanne) and her caring social worker (Kate). The three push and pull at each other constantly, enabling one to get what they want while disappointing another. Kate wants the best for Jamie in a way to cope with the death of her son while Leanne wants to keep Jamie in a life of crime because she is all she ever had. This leads to some great tension and emotion throughout. I immediately think of a confrontation between Leanne and Kate that is nerve-racking enough to make you shout at the screen. Caton-Jones' film is at the top of its class and I recommend Urban Hymn to anyone looking for a compelling and expertly-crafted piece of cinema.
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