2 out of 10
Release Date: 23rd March 2012 (DVD Premiere)
Director: Rishi Opel (Baseline)
Cast: Jamie Foreman, Gordon Alexander, Freddie Connor, Zoe Tapper with Kellie Shirley and Danny-John Jules
Writer: Rishi Opel
Trailer: THE GRIND
The Grind is a funny one…. Bobby (GORDON ALEXANDER – BASELINE) and Vince (FREDDIE CONNOR – GYPO) are two best friends. Vince runs ‘The Grind’, a nightclub owned by local loan shark, Dave (JAMIE FOREMAN – ST GEORGE’S DAY). Bobby lives with his invalided mother and a younger brother. He stacks shelves at a convenience store and has no way of paying back a £10k gambling debt to Dave. When Vince and Bobby’s paths cross again after a few years out of touch the whole situation snowballs. The reunion triggers Bobby’s descent into a predictable over-acting hell and a plot that offers no surprises which make this a doubly punishing watch.
There’s a lot wrong with this terminally ill movie. Its not so much how awful it all is, as opposed to how on earth the makers f*cked up a potentially gripping if predictable little gangster movie? It’s not so much the bad acting that sets this apart, it’s the execution. Some confusion is caused by the parts that could be aspiring to be arty, or are they just clumsy mistakes that couldn’t be fixed in post? I mean, even the extras are bad and that for me is a first. For example, the night club scenes contain a series of overlong dance floor scenes in which said extras (who look like they got rounded up at Job Centre Plus – tracksuits intact) get to cut loose to some minimal house music. These scenes seem to go on for ages and to make things worse they add nothing to the plot. When characters speak the background music is drowned out, this makes for a very irritating device. The use of slow motion at unusual parts of the story are weird as well. Two characters get out of a car and are watched walking away in Lars Von Trier style slow motion for no reason. Were they still shooting on film and had to justify the wasted film because they’d accidentally locked the camera in the car? Maybe.
Its not all bad though but when a soundtrack (I’m not talking about the house music in the club) is the best thing about your film it’s time to worry. But The Grind has got a seriously good and effective film score. It adds the needed depth to the characters’ plight. Well, it almost does because nothing can rescue The Grind. The usually wooden or woefully ripe Jamie Foreman, comes across like acting royalty in this, giving one of his most convincing performances to date. Jamie Foreman‘s Dave is a believable scumbag and he’s the sole reason for watching the movie. Everyone else, barring a small appearance by Kellie Shirley (GBH), is stiff and too self-concious to convince. The two leads, Bobby and Vince are left to swing by the necks. A bad script, bad blocking, non-existent direction expose their weaknesses as actors. A rooftop confrontation near the end would make the producers of Hollyoaks hoot with laughter and derision. The soundtrack carries the inevitable ending but the cinematography was performed by a drunk, the direction was non-existent, the script was full of banalities (it includes a monologue about constipation). Jamie Foreman, however is great and the film comes to attention when he’s on-screen. Its a shame he has to share it with a bunch of no-hope wanna-be gangster muppets. It’s initially refreshing to see a UK gangster movie that wants to be dark and isn’t riffing on stale Guy Ritchie tropes. But that goodness runs out as soon as you get to one of those crap club scenes.
2 out of 10 – The second point is for the great soundtrack. Dark, but badly executed and assembled gangster film with predictable plot. Great supporting role from Jamie Foreman though. One of his best bits of acting. I hope the director, Rishi Opel improves because at the moment he’s coming across as ‘OPELESS. Hahahahahaa. Side note: Red Dwarf fans beware, despite prominent billing and a big picture of his mug on the DVD cover, Danny John-Jules‘ (aka The Cat from RED DWARF) role is very small. He’s only in it for under ten minutes.
Second review by Matt Usher below.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Jamie Foreman: A Hundred Streets, Eastenders (TV), Dead End (2013), St George’s Day, Screwed (2011), Ironclad, Baseline, Botched, Eastenders (TV), Oliver Twist (2005), Layer Cake, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, The Football Factory, Goodbye Charlie Bright, Gangster No.1, Elizabeth I, This Year’s Love, Nil By Mouth
- Gordon Alexander: The Anomaly, Don’t Let Me In, Sucker Punch (2008), Underground (2008), Baseline, The Purifiers
- Freddie Connor: Baseline, Gypo
- Zoe Tapper: Blood (2013), Cheerful Weather For The Wedding, Baseline, Survivors (TV), Stage Beauty
- Kellie Shirley: Shame The Devil, Run For Your Wife, GBH, Baseline, Eastenders (TV)
- Danny-John Jules: Freestyle, Red Dwarf (TV), Sucker Punch (2008), Underground (2008), MI High (TV), Blade II, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, London Kills Me