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Twenty Four Seven
Director: Shane Meadows

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 England".

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.


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