Ill Manors (18)

Ben Drew, 116mins. Starring: Riz Ahmed, Nathalie Press

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The Independent Culture

Unremittingly grim, the debut feature from Ben Drew (better known as musician Plan B) chronicles the misadventures of a group of drug dealers, crack whores and street thugs in Forest Gate, East London. Plan B's songs are used as a running commentary on the bleak events depicted.

The characters are hard to warm to: they have little of the humour or charm of, say, the ne'er do wells in Ken Loach's The Angels' Share.

An episodic storyline picks up when Riz Ahmed's Aaron is left with a baby on a train and tries to find the mother.

Ill Manors is effective in showing the deprivation and violence that face the urban underclass in Britain. Individual scenes (a kid beating up his friend in the playground to prove himself to the local dealer, a teenage would-be model caught up in gang warfare) are shocking and powerful.

Nonetheless, by the final reel, as a baby is caught in a blazing fire, an already overwrought film strays fatally into the realm of Victorian melodrama.

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