Today: May 29, 2024

Best Of British At BFI London Film Festival 2013

The 57th BFI London Film Festival takes place 9th-20th October and this year sees an abundance of homegrown talent on display. FilmJuice takes a sneak peak at some of the Best of British that this year’s LFF has to offer.

Hello Carter
Director: Anthony Wilcox
Cast: Charlie Cox, Jodie Whittaker, Paul Schneider
Carter has had a bad year. Since breaking up with his girlfriend Kelly eleven months earlier, he has found himself unemployed and sleeping on his best friend’s floor. In an effort to turn his life around, Carter decides to win his ex back. The only problem is he doesn’t have her phone number. His fortune seems to take an encouraging turn when he runs into Kelly’s movie star brother Aaron on the tube, but when the egotistical Aaron requests a favour in return for his sister’s digits, Carter finds himself on a wild, and potentially criminal, goose chase around London. Having worked as an assistant director on a number of productions including The End Of The Affair and The Deep Blue Sea, Hello Carter marks the directing debut of Anthony Wilcox, whose wealth of experience shines through in this warm, witty and effortlessly charming take on the romcom.

Starred Up (Main Picture)
Director: David Mackenzie
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend
Taking its name from the rare circumstance whereby a young offender is transferred to an adult prison on the basis of their uncontrollably violent behaviour, Starred Up introduces us to Eric, a teenage inmate with an explosive temperament. Now Eric’s time inside looks set to become even more challenging when he is relocated to the same prison where his estranged father is also locked up. As the already volatile relationship between the two is pushed to breaking point, Eric is approached by a volunteer therapist who invites him to join his discussion group, leading Eric to take a look at his life and actions. Inspired by his first hand experience working with violent criminals in Wandsworth prison, debut screenwriter Jonathan Asser’s script exudes authenticity, presenting a hard-hitting and often merciless account of life behind bars. In so convincingly tapping into the psychological states of those who are incarcerated, Starred Up rises above the familiar traits of the prison film, presenting a fresh and urgent take on the genre. David Mackenzie’s dynamic but controlled direction blends beauty and brutality, while shining at the film’s heart are two extraordinary, nuanced performances from Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, who bring life to the physical and emotional struggles of this troubled father and son.

Director: Steven Knight
Cast: Tom Hardy
Charged with the responsibility of ensuring the sound foundations of huge architectural constructions, structural engineer Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is as solid as the concrete that he pours for a living. For ten years he has built a reputation as a highly respected professional and as a fiercely loved father and husband. On the eve of a career-crowning moment, we follow Ivan’s journey driving from Wales to London, and see how one mistake has caused his hitherto firmly focused and controlled life to slowly and completely fall apart. Both Ivan’s brute determination to regain control over his life and his stubborn refusal to engage fully with the emotional reality, are combined perfectly in Hardy’s taut performance. Steven Knight’s direction, too, is as resolutely Spartan as his central character. Shot in its entirety over eight days, and never leaving the interior of the car, Knight’s film nevertheless succeeds in creating a gripping atmosphere of tightly wound tension.

Director: Rob Brown
Cast: Roger Nsengiyumva, Rachel Stirling, Rosie Day, Fady Elsayed, Sam Spruell
Jumah is about to turn 16 and is already in need of a fresh start. Burdened with the shameful legacy of a past as a child soldier in the Congo, he lives with his adoptive mother in west London, where he struggles to keep a lid on his history of violence. One night, enjoying a rare carefree evening out with a new friend, Jumah witnesses something that draws him seemingly inescapably into his old ways. As he and others around him begin to question whether he can ever stop being a soldier, he’s set on a path to find out who he truly wishes to be. Already a short filmmaker of some note, Rob Brown has assembled a strong British cast that he has directed with restraint and grace, remaining unafraid to confront the audience with his characters’ culpability and social responsibility. The resulting film is a beautifully realised and moving take on the British urban thriller.

The Selfish Giant
Director: Clio Bernard
Cast: Connor Chapman, Shaun Thomas, Sean Gilder, Steve Evets
Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name, The Selfish Giant tells the tale of Arbor and Swifty, two young boys growing up in an underprivileged town in Yorkshire. Struggling to fit in at school, and each facing their own challenges at home, the two friends find their seemingly directionless lives given dubious purpose when they meet local scrapdealer Kitten, from whom they learn of the lucrative demand for copper wire. Kitten allows the boys to use his horse and cart to collect scrap metal, but as the pair start getting to grips with the trade, a divide is formed when their mentor starts showing favour towards Swifty, leaving the cocky Arbor feeling excluded and increasingly irresponsible in his actions. Having astounded with the innovative docu-fiction hybrid The Arbor, Barnard employs a more traditional mode of storytelling with this modern-day fable, but one that in no way diminishes the film’s dramatic impact. Recalling the social realism of Ken Loach’s Kes, and the allegorical poetry of Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher and Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, Barnard finds an understated beauty in her austere landscapes, infusing each scene with a sense of visual grace and emotional compassion. But perhaps most striking are the performances from non-professional actors Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas as Arbor and Swifty, who are nothing short of astonishing.

Gone Too Far!
Director: Destiny Ekaragha
Cast: Malachi Kirby, Oc Ukeje, Shanika Warren-Markland, Adelayo Adedayo
When teenage Yemi (Kirby) meets his long-lost Nigerian brother Iku (Ukeje), he quickly finds his estranged sibling’s African heritage and unimpressive fashion sense – socks and sandals! – a blight on his own street cred, particularly when trying to impress local troublemaking temptress Armani (Warren-Markland). As simmering adolescent passions and West Indian-African tensions erupt over the course of one day on their estate, both Yemi and Iku must decide where their loyalties lie. Adapted from Bola Agbaje’s Olivier award-winning play, the film finds the humour in its Peckham ‘endz’ while still addressing serious racial tensions. Director Destiny Ekaragha’s short film Tight Jeans made a big impact at LFF 2008; it’s gratifying to see her talented cast and crew deliver on that early promise here.

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