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New Release Review - STILL

A London photographer finds himself targeted by a violent gang of teens.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Simon Blake

Starring: Aidan Gillen, Jonathan Slinger, Elodie Yung, Amanda Mealing, Sonny Green



"Simon Blake's Still delivers all the grit you might expect from a London crime drama, and establishes Aidan Gillen as one of the most interesting and undersung actors to emerge from the British Isles in recent years."



Opening in UK cinemas on the same day as Rebecca Johnson's Honeytrap, Simon Blake's Still is yet another London set drama based around that city's teenage gang epidemic. This one's not drawn from a real life event, but it delivers all the grit you might expect from a London crime drama, and establishes Aidan Gillen as one of the most interesting and undersung actors to emerge from the British Isles in recent years.
Gillen is Carver, an Irish photographer living in London's grottiest flat with his trophy foreign girlfriend Christina (Elodie Yung). A year after the death of his teenage son in a hit and run incident, Carver joins his ex-wife Rachel (Amanda Mealing) in visiting the boy's grave, rekindling their friendship, if not their romance, in the process.
While photographing pupils at a nearby school, Carver encounters Jimmy (Joseph Duffy), a young pupil still distraught at the recent murder of his older brother by members of an underage gang known as 'The Under-5s'. Bonding over shared grief, Carver and Jimmy become friends, which leads to Carver becoming a target of The Under-5s, whose campaign against him begins with verbal threats in the street, continues with a dead cat being left on his doorstep, and escalates rapidly to shocking extremes.
Simon Blake's take on the terrors of young knife-wielding Londoners is very much a liberal answer back to conservative vigilante movies like the Michael Caine starring Harry Brown. How easily you swallow the actions, or inaction, of its protagonist in dealing with the violence wrought upon him and those close to him will likely depend on your own political stance. Carver, egged on by his hack journo friend Ed (Jonathan Slinger), seeks violent retribution initially, but his liberalism ultimately holds him back. Considering how far his antagonists' campaign has gone in terms of point of no return violence, it's difficult to buy Carver's change of heart, regardless of how progressive your views are.
There are shades of Antonioni in Carver's passive ennui, drifting aimlessly around the London streets, camera in hand like BlowUp's David Hemmings, caring little for the consequences of his passivity in addressing the threats posed by his situation. Gillen is a portrait of narcissistic indifference and self-loathing as Carver uses his son's death as an excuse to sink into a drink sodden fugue state. You can't help but feel if this tragedy hadn't occurred, Carver would have to manufacture one.
Not everything quite adds up with Blake's film however. It's difficult to buy into Carver's relationship with Christine; what exactly does she see in this miserable drunk, and would a glamorous lady like herself really be willing to live in such a pigsty of a flat? Yet despite a few inconsistencies, Still is chiefly a gripping, exceptionally performed drama, anchored by a standout turn from Gillen.




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