1 DAY

Read Joe Pesci II’s review below.

Release Date: 6th November 2009

Director: Penny Woolcock  (Mischief Night / Death Of Klinghoffer / Tina Takes a Break / Tina Goes Shopping) 

Cast: Dylan Duffus, Ohran Whyte, Yohance Watson, Tobias Duncan

Writer: Penny Woolcock 

Trailer: 1 DAY

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

All cast members are first timers and have no other acting credits.

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One thought on “1 DAY

  1. 1 DAY – review by Joe Pesci II

    GOOD FILM ALERT! Hang out the flags and the bunting, make merry and rejoice! Not that this is really a flags and bunting film, but it’s refreshing to remember that we can make decent, interesting, distinctive and novel films in Britain. OK this one is already four years old and has a lot wrong with it, but nevertheless it is proof that there are still people out there willing to come up with stupid ideas and yet somehow manage to make them work.

    DISAMBIGUATION ALERT! Reader, perhaps you are expecting this to be a review of the David Nicholls weepie starring Anne Hathaway and her much derided Yorkshire accent. You would be wrong. That was ONE DAY, this is 1 DAY. So I hope that clears up that little bit of confusion. Oh, and this 1 DAY is a hip-hop / rap / gangster (or probably ‘gangsta’) musical about drug dealers set on the mean streets of Birmingham, cast entirely (seemingly) with amateurs and first-timers. And our hero is also on the run from his gran. It should be abysmal. Fortunately Penny Woolcock is on hand as director and writer (though a lot of the dialogue is presumably improvised), and she comes up with something which, though far from perfect, is surprisingly engaging, thoughtful and even enjoyable.

    Flash is our protagonist (no-one has a proper name in this). He’s a nice drug dealer, but finds himself having to deal with other drug dealers / criminal nutcases called Evil and Angel. (I bet their real names were Brian, Harold and Dominic.) Angel’s just out of jail, and Flash owes him. 1 DAY, like many films in this genre, follows Flash’s attempts to repay his debts (across the course of one day, hence the title. Obviously). So Flash does all the usual dumb gangster things. He begs, borrows, steals, threatens, cajoles, and is a lot more successful than George in TURNOUT, but still has little to show for his efforts. (Nicking jewellery off one of his ‘baby mothers’ is a particularly good bit.) And every now and again everyone breaks into song. I was about to suggest that this was the first gangster musical and I was wondering if the device might have livened THE GODFATHER up (Brando warbling with a mouthful of cotton wool would have been much more interesting) but then I remembered BUGSY MALONE. See, even the stupid ideas have already been used up. You might argue that the film falls between several stools: there’s too little music for it to be a fully fledged musical (you wouldn’t mistake it for MARY POPPINS in spite of both films sharing themes such as fatherhood and poverty), nor does it have the single-minded plot-focus to make it a tight, brutal thriller. And then Flash finds himself being lectured by a vicar and in trouble with his nan. And you can argue that the gunfights seem out of place in a Birmingham street. But that’s the point. They are out of place, and yet, so the film argues, this is happening. You might even argue that by having a little sing-song about it the film might be seen to be endorsing such behaviour. But you wouldn’t think that if you saw the film. (It’s one of those films for which a description can only be, at best, unhelpful, and, at worst, evidence that the film should be banned forever which might explain why Birmingham’s police authorities allegedly wanted it banned.) Somehow, out of this mess, we get a nicely rounded portrait of a central character whose life is out of control, without him even noticing. And I guess the most important thing in this film is its own conviction. There’s a scene where Flash is on the phone and the actor gets some words mangled. Instead of dissolving into laughter like a professional actor and having the footage cut and put on the bloopers reel, he carries on regardless, digs himself out of trouble and manages to give the scene authenticity and energy.

    There’s a lot that doesn’t work. There’s a subplot in which we follow a little kid grow (over the course of the one day of the title) from harmless street urchin to evil henchman. The lad playing him is excellent but it’s a bit too much of a story arc over too short a time to be credible. The performers speak in an English that I have never encountered. Even with the benefit of subtitles I sometimes wondered what was being said. And the final lurch into a tragic bleakness feels a little bit too strained. In the thirties the American Hays Code basically meant that bad guys in movies could get up to all sorts of naughtiness so long as they were punished. The ending here feels a little forced, but again, maybe that’s the point.

    It’s not the first musical about gang warfare, West Side Story got there fifty years ago after all. But it has a certain brutal honesty (or is it honesty? Maybe it’s fake honesty; having so far avoided gang warfare I can’t accurately comment, though I won’t let that stop me). The opening is incredibly confrontational, pretty much daring all the white liberal critics in the audience to leave / switch the DVD off. Dear reader, it so happens that I spent a few days in Birmingham immediately prior to seeing this film. I have to admit that had it been the other way round I may well have reconsidered my decision to go to that city in order to see Welsh National Opera. But it’s only a movie and I didn’t get caught up in any violent drug dealing murder and mayhem, so clearly the film has no footing in reality whatsoever. Thank goodness.

    So all in all, 1 DAY is probably the best amateur black rap musical about rubbish gangsters in Birmingham that you’re likely to see, and is proof that there is still skill, imagination and belief in British film.

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