|Ben Drew, never afraid to give an opinion (he must be a Londoner!)|
Ben Drew is an interesting character: born Benjamin Paul Balance Drew in Forest Gate East London in 1983 he is celebrated professionally as Plan B. Primarily known as a rapper and a singer songwriter. His second studio album was the very well received The Defamation of Strickland Banks (2010) a soul record that went straight to number one in the United Kingdom album charts. Another string to Drew’s bow is his talents as a movie actor appearing in Adulthood (2008), Harry Brown (2009) 126.96.36.199 (2010) and as George Carter, Detective Inspector Jack Regan’s sidekick, in the film version of The Sweeney (2012)
|East End youth culture!|
This rather talented young man has now written and directed his own movie ill Manors (2012). It presents a different take on the London we have all seen during this summers Olympic games. Set in Forest Gate it attempts to illustrate the gang culture of this part of East London and depicts the type of young people
who could have been involved in the inner city riots that took place during the summer of 2011. A great deal of the back ground for this movie is contained within the words of the songs written and performed by Plan B which gives us the equivalent of a spoken narrative but in song. The director giving a unique insight to a side of life which most of us only experience from the news, juxtaposing the lives of various disenfranchised young people in a very skilful manor but without glamorisation or exaggeration.
|Part of this culture is the power of the gun.|
Aaron (Riz Ahmed who gets better every time you see him) brought up in a children’s home is trying to stay clean and wants to locate his biological mother, his best mate Ed (Ed Skrein) a tough small time dealer, has lost his mobile phone which has got the numbers of his drug contacts. Suspecting the crack addicted prostitute Michelle (Anouska Mond) of stealing the phone he literally drags her round the streets pimping her until she has raised enough money to pay him back. Kirby, ex king pin dealer of the area has just been released from prison and now has to wrestle control from his former apprentice Chris who has taken control of the ex prisoners turf. Chris in the mean time is trying to extract revenge for the shooting of his young sister while the teenager Jake is determined to prove himself to Marcel so he can join his gang. Katya (Natalie Press one of the few professional actors) is pregnant and trying to escape from Russian sex traffickers.
|Both Chris and Jake are victims of the culture.|
I think from this brief description you can ascertain the general essence of the movie. The original idea came from a short film that Ben Drew made with the help of Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas 1995) in 2008 for the London Film Festival. Beginning with a 20-page script, reduced to 5 pages it became Bisness Woman. Which in turn led to a longer film called Michelle, which demonstrated that Drew was an up and coming director of some merit. Expanding the same character’s found in Michelle Drew went on to make ill Manors.
|..... as is the young trafficked Russian girl Katya.|
Initially having to contend with 2009’s credit crunch, finance was hard to come by but eventually making the film with a micro-budget provided by the Film London Microwave scheme. Making the film on location in Forest Gate was also a problem because the local gangs, who were none too keen on them ‘invading’ their turf to make a movie, constantly monitored the crew who attempted to be as unobtrusive as possible.
|Are Aaron and Ed forced into this culture by a birth lottery?|
This is a fall-on hard-hitting slice of gritty entertainment based on reality that attempts to give reasons for the attitude of this disfranchised section of society. It also sets out to disprove the platitudes put out by our out of touch rulers that preaches to the gullible that staging the Olympics in East London would change the perceptions and the lives of the local inhabitants? An excellent first feature from our rap star but one that will leave you feeling you have been battered both mentally and physically.