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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Adrian Dunbar, Louis Dempsey, Melanie Lynskey, Matthew Rhys, Emma Fielding

Directors: Colin Teague, Glenn Durfort

Gilly (Louis Dempsey) steps out of prison with nothing and no one except his so called best friend ‘J’ (Andrew Howard) whom he took the rap for in a previous job. Times have changed since he entered jail several years ago with J moving from soft drug pushing to a dealer in guns (hence the title as J’s wife describes her husband). In J’s words ” Guns are the drug of the millennia- the pushers need something to shoot before the others shoot up”. The two title characters still trust each other, which means one thing; trouble.

This is a superb but very, very bleak Brit flick. The acting is exceptional. The two leads grate at first but you start to worry for them as the story progresses and the performance of Adrian Dunbar as the gangland modfather is very well portrayed- as in all good villains, from BOND to GET CARTER, he has presence and a sense of humour, but these never detract from one thing- that he’s a murderer.

The locations used are really incredible. I haven’t seen the urban jungle portrayed so bleakly since the tower block desolation of CANDYMAN. Hard to believe this is England 1999 (when the movie was directed) and that these locations are all within a three-mile radius of Kings Cross, London. Frightening.

If the locations weren’t chilling enough, there are some truly shocking scenes. The scene when J shows Gilly his cocaine den is unforgettable. The shiny, pristine surfaces of the weighing tables in stark contrast to the surrounding decay. However, it’s when the weighers take off their masks when J addresses them, that holds the real shock. They are all around 12-14 years old. This memorable scene, along with the superb acting from all the cast including Melanie Lynskey (virtually unrecognisable from the little girl in HEAVENLY CREATURES), Matthew Rhys and Gerard Butler (who obviously loves the chance to ham it up as Jackie Junior) make this a really disturbing but brilliant film.

Andrew Howard who also had a hand in the script and the rest of the cast really make you think that London really hasn’t moved on from 1665. In those days, the great unwashed were sick with the plague. In the same way, the kids and the junkies take on the same unwashed pallor, but their plague is self inflicted and comes in many forms, but the symptoms are the same, slowly dying, slouched in a corner in a form of hell on Earth. The constant smoking of cigarettes of the two leads is as though they want to cleanse the air around them, as they realise that they are surrounded by the smell of death and decay, which again takes many forms. The title obviously could also relate to the use of drugs, but the brief high only leads to worse lows. Life for these people really is a living hell, where they spend time shooting themselves up, only to let themselves and their loved ones down.

Although this film is a very bleak portrayal of life – it’s British after all – it stands head and shoulders above those others which have gathered so much praise. Who knows where this movie will be seen? If it weren’t given the support it deserves, that would be the biggest crime of all.

Verdict: Shooting Stars, shooting from the tip.

5 out of 6 stars