There were three diverting moments in this film. To start off with, the manager declined to recognise it as a film he was showing and had to get out a flyer to check that it was indeed on. Then, since the film started immediately and with no brightly-lit scenes, all three of us in the audience had a fun time trying to find a place to live in total darkness. The third one came at the end of the film….
In theory the protagonist Tim went through a hundred minutes of misery (his father had already deserted the family) as his brother was banged up, his mother died of cancer, his attempts to make a living through petty crime fell further and further short, his sister skipped school and fell into bad company, his girlfriend fell pregnant when he didn’t want to be a dad, and he persisted in robbing houses while developing meningitis (bad move that one)…
But I was baffled more than anything because while the action was supposed to be set in Gateshead, the characters acted and sounded like would-be hard men and other inhabitants from a council estate in Oxfordshire (which is the background of director Duane Hopkins I think). You could tell it actually was filmed in Gateshead because you enjoyed some views from the south bank of the Tyne and learned about the family’s history as steelworkers and would-be footballers. More convincingly, it had to be Tyneside because all the colour was washed-out, as in I am Nasrine.
Leaving aside the facts that the characters were actor-beautiful and well-spoken, and that their material conditions of life looked rather comfortable, I was disappointed to be deprived of a spiritual return to the North-East. But nostalgia was satisfied with a fine display of the cliches of 1970s Soviet cinematography, especially the departed beckoning meaningfully from behind net curtains at the edge of the screen or striding off silently into the distance, depending on gender. In fact, the scene at the end where Tim decided not to die in Intensive Care but instead to witness the birth of his child was rather good, and would have been more effective if we’d been allowed some saturated colour for contrast as at the end of Andrei Rublev.