London Kills Me Review

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A street hustler tries to wangle his way on to the straight and narrow in hip West London.


London's Ladbroke Grove is the scene of writer Hanif Kureishi's directorial debut, a determinedly hip sojourn among the dreaming, scheming, drug-dealing denizens of this particular area around Portobello Road.

The central story in this street life on parade is that of sweet-faced Justin Chadwick's bungling hustler - improbably christened Clint - and his very protracted efforts to acquire a pair of good shoes so that he can start a new life in a straight job, waiting tables in a trendy cafe. In the process he keeps busy by scamming his friend and smalltime drug-dispenser Muffdiver (Mackintosh) and wistfully shadowing the girl they both fancy, the enigmatic junkie Sylvie (McCourt).

These three perform attractively enough and are surprisingly engaging considering the bleak circumstances in which they are found, while Kureishi's apparent affection for creative con artists and his efforts to pack the proceedings with colour and incident are occasionally quirky and amusing, bolstered by nice supporting playing from veterans Roshan Seth and Alun Armstrong.

Occasionally enlivened by some startling continuity mysteries - obviously the inevitable result of low-budget logistics but a laugh anyway - such as snow on the ground one minute and autumnal trees the next, the credibility puzzles like Clint's middle-class Laura Ashley mum implausibly spliced to an Elvis impersonating bit of rough afford yet more humour but are less easily forgiven as irrelevancies in this smart-assed supposed slice of life.

There is an inherent tedium in the tale because, as one of the characters so accurately observes, "Druggies are boring".