Pusher, Edinburgh International Film FestivaL
High times in a streetwise and sleazy Brit flick with lots of
The British remake of Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn's
Pusher, which has just received its world premiere in Edinburgh,
shares the same relentless narrative tempo that made the 1996
original so distinctive.
The characters and milieu are familiar from dozens of other seedy, low-budget British gangster films but we very quickly begin to identify with small-time drug dealer Frank (Richard Coyle) as he blunders round London, desperately trying to pay off a £55,000 debt.
Spanish-born director Luis Prieto isn't embarrassed at all about using all the genre clichés: pounding music, sweaty close-ups, fights in strobe-lit nightclubs, chases, shots of rubbish-strewn London streets. The screenplay doesn't entirely hang together. The machismo and posturing dialogue sometimes grate. However, what the film does have is ferocious drive and some very vividly drawn characters.
In a slightly ambiguous, strangely written role as Flo, an erotic dancer, drug dealer and all round siren, fashion model Agyness Deyn brings an unlikely glamour to proceedings. The producers are reportedly contemplating a spin-off film in which she would be the main protagonist. Here, Deyn (also shortly to be seen in Terence Davies's Sunset Song) isn't on screen much and her character's motivation is hard to surmise but she has real presence.
The producers (who include Refn) were also sensible to cast the wonderful Zlatko Buric (who appeared in the original as well as in Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things) as the tall, genial Milo, the man to whom Frank owes the money. Milo isn't the typical heavy. He has a sweet tooth and is constantly trying to feed Frank pastry. He likes Frank but (as is the immutable law in gangster films like this), he puts money before friendship and is quite prepared to break his friend's kneecaps if he's not repaid in full.
The Pusher premise is similar to that of Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. The difference here is that there's no Clarence the angel to help out Frank. He's sleazy and violent. We see him brutally beat up his "gobby" friend Tony (Bronson Webb). When he needs money, he'll beg from his mother or extort it. Nonetheless, you can't help but root for him as he tries desperately to clamber out of a very big hole. "I didn't do anything wrong," he laments at one stage as his life falls apart. Just as in the original film, the fates are against him and there is little he can do to avoid his own damnation.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Madonna claims jokes about her age tantamount to racism: 'No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black'
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia