Film Review: ‘Ill Manors’
[video:mtv.co.uk:771242] Ben Drew, better known as Plan B, has had an astonishing career so far. Rising through the ranks as a young MC, with a powerful way with words and a strong social conscience, he changed direction with the release of his 2010 soul-pop concept album, 'The Defamation of Strickland Banks' – and his latest project proves that he has more than one string to his bow...
Last year’s riots and the current state of the nation have got Drew’s back up once again, responding to the recent chaos by releasing his angry rap anthem, 'iLL Manors' – on which he spits ferociously, Rage Against the Machine-style, about his disdain for the current government and his concern for future generations.
His new movie of the same name has a similarly upfront tone. Set in an east London council estate, multiple narratives overlap and interlink. There are many difficult social issues covered in this hard-hitting film: the drugs trade and subsequent addiction, gang violence, prostitution and child abuse. It is certainly not an easy watch and, much like Plan B’s early music, it’s unflinching and unapologetic in its bleak depiction of urban life.
Ed Skrein and Riz Ahmed stand out in particular, with the charismatic Skrein as a frighteningly cruel thug and Ahmed as his softer, more thoughtful sidekick. Anouska Mond shows extraordinary depth as a damaged drug addict who sells her body to feed her addiction and Eloise Smyth is excellent as 'Jody', a schoolgirl caught up in the madness. But perhaps the most hauntingly powerful performance in 'iLL Manors' comes from Ryan De La Cruz Indanda as a young boy called 'Jake', who is recruited by an older gang with heartbreaking consequences.
The camerawork is daring and innovative and there are some great performances. Parts of the drama are narrated by Plan B himself, who spits potent biographical rhymes to accompany shots of the tragic lives of his character. Despite the bitty narrative and some fairly loose links between characters, 'iLL Manors' packs a powerful punch and goes beyond media and politicians’ portrayals of a so-called "broken Britain" in an attempt to examine some of the root causes of these issues. An absolute must-see!
'iLL Manors' hits nationwide cinema screens on June 6.
Words: Laura Vevers (@LauraV88)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)