By Aaron Moran (Ireland)
We Are All Products of Our Environment
Forest Gate, London summer 2010, England was in flames as thousands of angry young youths raced through city streets looting shops and burning down houses. These images were broadcasted worldwide as these young people were dubbed as ‘chavs and scum’ by the tabloid hunting newspapers. There was public outrage nationwide as people called for these young people to be put in jail.
Fast forward to 2012 and you will see Ben Drew’s A.K.A Plan B’S debut feature the aptly titled Ill Manors. Drew’s aim is to pull back the curtain and show how these people came from innocent children to thieving arsonists. His aim is to get to the core of the problem where people stop reading the sensationalist headlines and to start looking at the deeper more inherent problems in British youth culture.
He achieves this by showing Forest Gate his hometown as a type of hell on earth with its inhabitants being a cast of drug dealers, prostitutes, illegal immigrants and crack addicts. Manors is as bleak as it gets with one scene involving a prostitute named Michelle being pimped out to an entire street of kebab shop owners in order to pay back a drug dealers stolen phone.
Drew never lets his film fall into unbelievable levels of grimness as he peppers the dialogue with sly dark moments of humor. Drew keeps his film stylistically interesting and prevents it from falling in with the slew of other generic British gangsters thrillers. The opening credits in particular establish the film to be of a higher quality.
The film is in some ways cinemas first Hip-hop musical with Drew rapping over the images of his characters and filling in all the necessary background details. The films influences are clear with one scene especially giving homage to Martin Scorsese’s seminal 1980s masterpiece Taxi Driver.
The performances as whole are absolutely brilliant with nearly the entirety of the cast being newcomers all give refreshingly authentic performances.
Ill Manors is an eye opener to all of middle-class England who rush to demonize these kids before they know anything about their background and Drew establishes himself to be one of the most interesting new talents in British film-making.