Shifty (15)

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The Independent Culture

Drug crime on the outskirts of London sounds neither promising nor original, but Eran Creevy's debut feature is more character study than the usual Britcrim parade of guns and geezers.

It has a heart and mind of its own. Daniel Mays plays Chris, a prodigal returning home from his newly respectable life in Manchester, having fled the old neighbourhood four years earlier after his unwitting part in a drug-related death. His best mate, Shifty (Riz Ahmed), carried the can, and has since graduated from selling dope to crack cocaine. He's isolated himself in the process, caught between his duplicitous supplier (Jason Flemyng), a desperate addict (Jay Simpson) and his devout older brother (Nitin Ganatra). Creevy's script is lean and terse, and the two leads do it full justice. Mays, terrific in Red Riding, is even better here, suggesting deep reserves of remorse as he tags along with Shifty on an average day's dealing. Ahmed has a great stone-cold stare, and slides fluently between mildness and menace. Not really a fun night out, but the tightest and most textured drama of South-east lowlife since London to Brighton.