Contemporary British urban cinema only really reached the mainstream thanks to the widely successful KiDULTHOOD, created by the talented Noel Clarke. With this sub-genre now one of the most consistently creative, shocking and pioneering, we take a look at some of the best films to show the dark, gritty side of London ahead of the release of BrOTHERHOOD - the third part of the iconic British trilogy, which is now in cinemas.
Directed by documentary maker Saul Dibb, Bullet Boy is a dark and insightful tale of loyalty, brotherhood and the effects of gun crime that is sensitively handled as chaos reigns on a London estate. Bullet Boy has an authenticity that elevates it above comparable movies. Ashley Walkers, who plays Ricky, is desperate for change, for a fresh start, for something simpler and happier but the black hole of violence keeps sucking him back in, despite his denials.
Arguably one of the best and most seminal films in British history, Pressure tackles identity and its complexity through the central character, Tony. Although clearly adopting an English sense of culture, Tony can't escape his West Indian background. He's mocked for his attempts at being British, but ironically can't get a job because of his skin colour. Essentially, Pressure is an insider's view into the life of Caribbean immigrants who have found a home in urban London, only to be subject to untold hate and discrimination.
In a Gran Torino-esque style, Harry Brown illustrates London in dystopia, seeming run by a bunch of foul-mouthed seventeen year-olds. Harry Brown realises he can do something about the thugs that surround him. Although a fairly simple storyline, the film follows the morally repugnant, the reactionary soul and those with stark contempt for law and order, but it still says something about the vigilante, old school, right wing mind-set in comparison with inner city youth; whether intentional or not.
RocknRolla is set in the heart of London, something that doesn't come subtly. It explores the different classes of crime, following both the millionaires and petty crooks as their stories intertwine. The film delves into the gentrification of the capital and the exploitation of urban areas by developers and millionaires who have no concern for local culture or their communities, whilst also portraying the many urban other urban areas which are often left to poverty after decades of neglect.
After the successes of KiDULTHOOD and AdULTHOOD, audiences are welcoming the return of BrOTHERHOOD's familiar characters after growing up and identifing with them for the past 10 years. The final part of the iconic trilogy sees Sam (Noel Clarke) attempt to stop a West London gang who are threatening his family in a twisted attempt to drag him back down. Now a hardworking family man with a wife and two children, a life of crime is one he thought he'd escaped from, however when he is forced back into the commotion of violence and depravity, he must decide how best to end it for good..
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