Set in Philadelphia in 1976, Marcus Washington (Anthony Mackie) returns home to bury his father and inadvertently gets drawn back into his old world, very different in some way to his younger days and in others exactly the same.

His return opens old wounds within the community regarding an event that had taken place a decade previously.

It feels like this could have been a brilliant HBO series, the film is too short, the characters earning the right to a full treatment. Everybody brings interesting work to the table. Joining Mackie is Kerry Washington, very good as an old comrade from the Black Panther days. Wendell Pearce turns up as a cop and another Wire alumnus, Jamie Hector supports well as the local man on the block.

This is a film that doesn’t shout its message from the rooftops, as in real life, there are complexities in the minutiae of life and this film approaches them with a subtler energy than usual. It’s a well put together drama about the ghosts of the past and how unless you break free of them they can keep you in a place.

The film is directed by Tanya Hamilton, which explains a lot about the way the film plays out. This was her first feature, which she wrote, co-produced and directed.
With the majority of films released helmed by men, it is a joy to get the feminine angle.
Like Wadjda the message is brought in sensitively and there are really no black and white answers to the problems. There are so many aspects to one’s life and certain sacrifices have to be made for the greater good or at least for the benefit of one’s immediate family and situation.

The problem here is that the credits roll at the point that feels like the end of the first episode.
One is left wanting more.

The music is brilliant, starting with El Michel’s Affair’s instrumental version of C.R.E.A.M and going on to use another 3 tunes from their Wu inspired album Enter the 37th Chamber (well worth getting by the way).
It evokes a time beautifully and with soul.

An interesting film looking at the relationships we have with our family, our secrets and our past.







The opportunity for redemption is open to all. Keep trying, keep getting better.
Ultimately, know thyself and what you are capable of. Whether you are the character Dom Hemingway, a despicable, violent, angry lowlife criminal or you are Jude Law, a good looking, well-known, successful actor; this path is open to you and all in-between.

The main problem with this film is the mis-casting of the lead character. Sure, he may be able to learn his lines, show up on time, already have a name for himself but if he don’t have the chops the camera will show it, (remember what Bucks Fizz said? -it never lies).

Jude Law is Dom Hemingway, a man released from jail and owed heavily for keeping his mouth shut. Hemingway is a lout, quick to anger (which in this case means a LOT of shouting), emotionally retarded and extremely violent.

There is a fairly well written screenplay hiding within this film and it contains some (potentially) great speeches, the sad thing is that the brilliance lies dormant on the page and it never quite translates into walking and talking in front of camera.
Richard E Grant can always be relied on to bring a certain energy to a part, ever enjoyable, always real and it was cool to see Demian Bechir giving his best in dangerous heavies as Dom’s former boss. Emilia Clarke grounds the film with a heart. Romanian actress and model, Madalina Diana Ghenea smoulders in a part that could have developed into something more interesting. Irish actress Kerry Condon has fun with her hooker with a heart role, so there are interesting women’s roles in there, they just don’t connect properly because the main fuse isn’t working.
Everyone is sturdy with the exception of the lead. Without wanting to sound too harsh, it’s like a film has been cast with talented, experienced professionals and they decided to cast the lead from a drama school graduation show, someone who may have potential but isn’t quite there yet. There is little more to say about this 43 year old man who has been in the business for years.

In the same vein as Sexy Beast only without the interesting performances.
The director Richard Shephard has just directed 6 episodes of HBO’s Girls and quite a few bits of TV and film and does the best he can when weighed down by a lead who doesn’t have the gravitas to keep it afloat.

A film hinges on its lead and if said lead can’t carry it, drop goes the movie.

A fairly painful 93 minutes.