“What I’m looking for is someone who can contribute to what England has given to the world: culture, sophistication, genius – a little bit more than an ’ot dog, know what I mean?”
John Mackenzie’s classic British thriller, from a rip-roaring script by Barrie Keeffe, nearly went straight to TV and only ended up in cinemas thanks to the intervention of George Harrison’s HandMade Films. Today it stands as a prophetic classic, as groundbreaking as Get Carter, as quotable as Withnail & I (“Shut up you long streak of paralysed piss”).
Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren are magnificent as the lord and lady of their underworld manor, attempting to develop London Docklands in a pre-Canary Wharf world, caught between American investors and IRA bombs. Phil Meheux’s camera captures the city on the brink of international change, while Keeffe’s script scratches away at Europe, the free market and the property boom with uncanny prescience. To cap it all, Francis Monkman’s synthy, saxy theme remains nail-bitingly catchy. Sheer brilliance.
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