Eight friends from school are well on their way - three in a band together, a audacious aspiring photographer etc. But by the time their twenties begin, life and its inevitable trouble and turmoil strike.
Pitched somewhere between Human Traffic and BBC2's twentysomething drama series This Life, Greenwich Mean Time bravely sets out to bottle the mercurial spirit of young modern living in South London, 1999. 'Yoof', of course, is perilously dangerous territory for film makers, particularly when having to deal with, as here, a largely first feature cast.
Greenwich Mean Time begins four years ago, with eight mixed race 17-year-olds leaving school, and then swiftly cuts to the present, where three of the group - Rix (Ejiofor), Bean (Waters) and Bobby (Alicya Eyo) - have formed a band managed by 'trustafarian' schoolmate, Sam (Shepherd). Elsewhere, loose cannon Charlie (Newman), depicted in the opening scenes surfing a train while snapping away with his camera, remains an aspiring photographer and actual motorcycle courier.
Soon their lives are thrown into turmoil - Rix's when his partner Sherry (Anjela Lauren Smith) announces her pregnancy, Bean's when manager Sam insists that they ditch his freeform trumpet playing in favour of vocalist Iona (Hinda Hicks), and then the whole ensemble is shattered when a motorbike accident leaves Charlie paralysed. From this point on, the friends' relationships strain to accommodate the tragedy, resulting in Bean's plummet into a crack-dealing/using lifestyle.
Where Greenwich Mean Time - the odd snatch of toe-curling dialogue aside - really succeeds is in its hard-bitten authenticity, built upon sterling performances by all involved; Newman (convincingly portraying the conflicting emotions of a 21-year-old now facing a wheelchair-bound life) and Waters (who becomes more sallow-featured as his drug habit takes hold) deserve to be singled out.
Aside from acting as a springboard for new British talent, Greenwich Mean Time proves moving, darkly funny and - even at nearly two hours - never anything less than completely engaging.