Writer/Director: Simon Blake
Cast: Aidan Gillen, Jonathan Slinger, Amanda Mealing, Elodie Yung, Sonny Green, Kate Ashfield
97min Drama | Thriller UK
The “North London father & son thriller” is becoming somewhat of a sub-genre these days but STILL has Aidan Gillen and Amanda Mealing to distinguish it from the rest of the pack. It establishes the unmarried middle-aged London male as a slick of slime that crawled out from under the promise of youth; lost its way and attached itself to any available female desperate enough to give it house room, due to the dearth of desirable males in the capital.
So having stamped his story with a nicely authentic narrative, Simon Blake sets it in the noirish shadows of Dickensian Islington where our anti-hero, Tom Carver (Gillen), has snared himself an Asian babe in the shape of fashionista Christina, played by sparky newcomer, Elodie Yung. While his intelligent and beautifully-presented ex-wife Rachel (an accomplished Mealing) is bemoaning the dearth of partner material, Carver gloats into his whisky glass; not even having to leave the comfort of his sordid front room to sell his photos, depicting grim views of windswept beaches and street kids – in black and white, wouldn’t you know.
STILL is a tragedy of modern London. This divorced couple, once happy, have now lost their love and their only child under the wheels of a hit-n-run driver and while Rachel mourns her son with grace and philosophy, leaving flowers on his grave; Carver has descended into a smog of self-pity where only the pert-bummed Christina “makes him smile” in his brief periods of sobriety.
Behind their tears of bereavement lies a thinly-veiled well of anger, waiting to wash through the toxic streets of N1. Rachel conceals hers with chippy sardony, while Carver just drinks and smokes into oblivion, hanging out with his well-meaning friend and hack, Ed (an equally low-life Jonathan Slinger) who is trying to raise awareness of the crime by putting a piece together for the local paper, the Police having lost interest in the case. A mixed-race juvenile gang appear to be involved in the boy’s death, and our curb-crawling duo, Tom and Ed, follow these likely lads through the streets, hoping for clues to nail them.
Although well-scripted with some witty dialogue, this slow-burn, rather predictable story lacks the tension to keep us on our toes – playing out as more of mood piece centering on the physical and emotional implosion of Carver – which may have solid appeal to overseas audiences, ignorant of this London species and fascinated to understand how it evolves, but to those of us already in the know, even its short-running time of 97 minutes feels like an angst-ridden tooth-pull. Simon Blake’s sure-footed debut shows promise with his camera angles and expert casting. It will be interesting to see how he handles different material. MT
ON DVD RELEASE FROM 24 August 2015