Film review: One Mile Away (15)


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The Independent Culture

The title of Penny Woolcock's documentary refers to the distance separating two Birmingham postcodes, the turfs of rival gangs Burger Bar Boys and the Johnson crew who between them have made the city notorious for stabbings and shootings.

But a peace initiative has been mooted by Johnson affiliate Shabba and his opposite number Dylan Duffus, star of Woolcock's hip-hop drama 1 Day (2009).

There's something affecting about these two young men coming together and trying to set an example to their juniors – it becomes serious enough for Blair's former aide Jonathan Powell to take a meeting with them.

Woolcock could hardly be more sincere in her endeavours, though she stretches her interviews close to breaking point: how often can you decry the cycle of violence, the hostility of the police, the bleak prospects of Birmingham's dispossessed?

Probably not often enough, the film-makers would say, but the language of grievance and the snarling aggression of the music become terribly repetitious.