Tuesday, 3 May 2011

4, 3, 2, 1 (2010)

The above film is the second as a director from actor and writer Noel Clarke.  This 'great white hope' of British entertainment is actually a talented black man who won the Olivier Award in 2003 as the most promising newcomer (for acting) and the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2009 (for his film work).  He wrote and was one of the main leads in the well-received film "Kidulthood" (2006), which dealt with a panoply of teen-aged problems on London's 'mean streets' and followed this with "Adulthood" (2008), which he wrote and directed, continuing the story of his character on his release from gaol six years on.  Both films were relatively gritty ensemble pieces and were interesting, if not exciting cinema outings, technically with their finger on the pulse of what it is to be young and relatively disadvantaged in the metropolis.

In the above movie he uses a number of actors from the earlier films, giving them new characters, but still largely on the criminal fringe.  However the story technically focuses on four girl friends and the title is meant to represent '4 Girls, 3 Days, 2 Cities, l Chance' which makes it all sound a little more clever than it actually is.  The girls are Ophelia Loviband as the one puzzled by the break-up of her family and trying to find a note that her departed mother has left for her.  Tamsin Egerton plays the rich and spoiled one whose parents have bought her a swish flat (complete with a panic room!), a talented pianist who is supposedly travelling to New York for an audition but who actually wants to use the trip to hook up with a chatroom boyfriend (and who loses her virginity to an impostor).  Shanika Warren-Markland plays the black one in a boisterous white Brazilian family and the supposed free thinker who lets us watch her 'hot' girl-on-girl sex.  Finally we have American starlet Emma Roberts trying to shed her earlier feisty, kooky teenaged roles as the dogsbody of a dysfunctional family who is forced to fill in on the night shift at a local convenience store in the place of her injured stepfather and feckless sister. (Why she is in this movie is something of a mystery).  In the meantime there has been a major diamond robbery in Antwerp, seemingly covered non-stop on British television news, which involves some of the local yobbos, including Mr. Clarke.

Thw film is presented in four sections focusing in turn on one of the girls and rather cleverly wraps up their interaction over the the three days in the final scenes.  However it is all rather a load of codswallop and not really terribly well thought out (or well-written) or convincing.  There is far too much emphasis on the girls in their scanties and some carefully photographed nudity (where there is nothing to see).  The diamond heist is used as a kind of McGuffin and adds to the film's lack of credibility as the stolen gems end up in a can of Pringles and in the hand of the now suicidal Loviband.  All of the girls are OK in their roles but they make an unlikely band of faithful friends.  Also on hand are unexpected and probably unnecessary cameos from Kevin Smith, Mandy Patinkin, and pop singer Eve, creating rather useless and underused additional characters.  

The trouble here is that Clarke is trying to include too much in a way that doesn't fit well with his flashy cutting and has therefore not really succeeded in giving us a particularly memorable movie.  Also someone should tell him that he is now getting too old to play one of the street kids.
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