Part of Glasgow Film Festival
Tonight having its British premiere, Michael Caton-Jones’ film is less hymn than gritty fairytale.
Set not long after the London riots in the summer of 2011, it focuses on idealistic middle-class Kate Linton (Shirley Henderson) who takes on a new job as care worker with vulnerable kids.
One day she bonds with taciturn, troubled young offender Jamie Harrison (Letitia Wright) over a shared love of vintage soul, and suggests she join her community choir.
However, Jamie’s best friend Leanne Dixon ( Isabella Laughland: fantastic, even if her character is frustratingly one-note) is a violent crack addict who’ll stop at nothing to come between the unlikely friends.
Vividly realised (particularly the sweaty grime club nights) and also featuring a cameo from Billy Bragg, Caton-Jones touchingly reinstates the redemptive power of music. Incredibly, Wright only learned the songs in a week, and has an absolutely gorgeous voice.
Henderson is quietly heartbreaking as self-medicating carer Kate, with her own hidden demons and deeply selfish husband David (Steven Mackintosh) stuck in a suburban prison.
But above all, it’s the beautiful and complex performance by Wright (previously so beguiling in Channel 4’s LGBT drama Banana) which elevates the film above the usual issue-based British fare.
Sure,there may be cliches and montages delivered with body-blow unsubtlety (Nick Moorcroft’s script is problematic- predictable and often a little cloying) but there’s a lot of heart. Plus,there are three brilliant central female performances- all too rare these days in contemporary British cinema..
Screening at Glasgow Film Theatre on February 23rd at 10.45 am.