Benjamin, a boy bullied for his Jewish faith, takes up boxing as a means of self-defense, alienating himself from his religious community. As an adult caught between two worlds, his ...
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Benjamin, a boy bullied for his Jewish faith, takes up boxing as a means of self-defense, alienating himself from his religious community. As an adult caught between two worlds, his desperation to provide for his family becomes the catalyst for a devastating series of events that ensures he may never find the acceptance he has always craved.Written by
Has a lot on the surface, but nothing much underneath
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Benjamin (Stephen Graham) grew up on the mean streets of London, and was bullied for his Jewish faith. Against the wishes of his Orthodox father, he took up boxing to learn to defend himself and in his adult years finds himself taking part in bare knuckle fighting jobs on the side to bring in a bit of extra cash to help wife Alice (Rebecca Callard) and young son. Benjamin is controlled by Shannon (Michael Smiley), a local hood who talks him into doing a spot of arson, which ends in him being sent to prison for manslaughter. Upon his release, he finds his local community more under Shannon's grip than ever, and life is about to get even more tough.
Serving as an extension of a short film he made just a few years ago, director David Leon now offers this expurgated version that serves as his feature length debut. It still, however, feels very much like a student offering, in its presentation and delivery. It's obviously been made on a very low budget, and while this doesn't detract from it in itself, it's the quality of the material that lets it down.
Reverting to his Snatch performance, here Stephen Graham once again dons a cockney accent, and once again pulls it off quite well. He certainly can't be faulted for trying to inject some light into this, as can't co star Smiley, but while it drips in a moody, drowned out, lingering style that is quite impressive, the same can't be said for the substance, with nothing underneath to really make you feel for the characters or galvanised by their plight.
There's some meaty themes to explore, some great casting and enormous potential all round, but somehow it all just misfires and isn't the sum of its parts. **
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