On the surface, TwentyFourSeven,
director Shane Meadows' debut feature film is a movie about boxing
but you will hardly notice it at all. Co-written with Paul Fraser,
TwentyFourSeven is set in an unnamed Midlands town during "Thatcher's
Love, lager, drugs are everywhere in this post-industrial wasteland
of disaffected young men and unemployed parents who all spend "twenty-four
hours, seven days a week, all day, everyday of doing the same nothing."
The film begins with an introduction to Britain's "national
acting treasure" Bob Hoskins (Alan Darcy) - a man with a mission
who believes he needs to give the town delinquents a 'reason to
live' and that a boxing club will keep them out of trouble. Just
like how the club gave his youth life purpose and structure.
Altruistic Darcy goes to lengths to round up the towns youth, from
manipulating the weaker kids with dreams of beating the town bullies
to taking the group on in penalty shoot-outs he can't possibly win.
He is an effective fix-it man and gets stoned Fagash (Mat Hand)
off a drug charge with an awkwardly impassioned plea to the court.
Short entirely in black and white with a pseudo-documentary look,
Darcy's "101 Warriors" club gives the wayward teens rightful
direction and they set aside their differences for the sake of sport.
Watch for the Blue Danube Waltz scene where Hoskins dances away
with his aunt, and Hoskins caressing the hand-print of his never-to-be
lover which is highly original.
It is amazing that Meadows is a self-taught filmmaker. He made shorts
with borrowed equipment and bought tape using his dole money. Meadows
cast his friends, not professional actors (Hoskins being the exception)
in TwentyFourSeven. While its occasionally evident that we're not
watching seasoned actors, it's never a serious glitch, since most
of the performances are credible. Hoskins displays great range as
Darcy - depending on the circumstances, he can be a funny, tragic,
heroic or horrific figure.
The message in the film is clear - everyone needs a dream to live
- be it self-inspired or created.