Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Review - 4321 (2010 - Dir. Noel Clarke)

(Again seeing as though it's Ladies' Night feel free to play a bit of Kool & the Gang as you read this lovely review by Doccortex - evlkeith)

The cover looks impressive in an urban, gritty, glamorous kind of way. 4 girls, 3 days, 2 cities,1 chance. Sounds intriguing enough. It’s billed as 2010’s best British film from a BAFTA award winning director. What could possibly go wrong?

Let’s get all the negatives out of the way first shall we? It turns out that the writer/director is that guy out of Doctor Who. He was annoying as the Doctor’s sidekick and he manages to make an equally annoying film. The fake urban-ness is almost too much to take and the street gangster types come across like the opening five minutes of Attack the Block, but with no like-ability factor. Do people actually talk like this? In South Yorkshire we all have the same accent, which admittedly makes us sound like the unintelligent cousin of the Dingles from Emmerdale, but it’s got to be better than that fake urban street talk innit?

Another problem is that although the film represents the four lead characters as strong, positive female role models, the whole thing descends into cartoony sub-Spice Girl power. Women can be strong in other ways than being able to beat up guys with limited kung fu skills. The recurring nightmare who is Michelle Ryan returns to spoil proceedings with some more wooden, annoying, stereotypical strong cockney woman acting, but this time with some obligatory limited Kung Fu moves.

The plot is so preposterous that a five year old would probably despair at the diamond heist tomfoolery and the general stupidity of the characters, let alone a safe in a super market cereal aisle!

It’s looking like we’re headed for a 0/10, but fear not! Somehow Clarke and Davis manage to snatch a victory from the gaping jaws of Luc Besson.

The film is told in four equal segments with one of the girls taking the lead in each section. We follow their personal story through the three days and each story is relatively engaging, but the clever part is how the full story is revealed bit by bit as each act is played out. As we view events from each individual point of view things start to mesh together and events that puzzled us earlier are explained. It’s intelligent and clever film making, and despite all the annoyances at the periphery, the film comes over as something really original even if you possibly have to be a teenager to enjoy it to its fullest effect.

The four leads all put in a decent acting shift with Shanika Warren-Markland (Kerrys) annoying but tough, and Tamsin Egerton (Cassandra) annoying and posh. Emma Roberts (Joanne) (Wild Child again!) is surprisingly believable as the gutsy American, but best of all is the depressed graffiti artist Shannon, played by Ophelia Lovibond. She’s introverted, vulnerable and is the only reason I watched for the first half hour.

It’s a mixed bag, but it’s well intended, entertaining and original. I’d watch it again just for all those little subtleties. Surprisingly positive and not bad for 99p.

If you like this you could also try:
Adulthood, Kidulthood, Life and Lyrics.

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