Directed by: Gary Oldman. If you’re a fan of well-worn, low budget, gritty, naturalistic British “kitchen sink” shit like I am, then you might just love this film. It’s a redemption story kind of, but unlike other redemption stories about a flawed protagonist sinking into a moral cavity and clawing desperately at redemption—unlike, say, The Fighter—this narrative doesn’t offer its redemption very easily, and perhaps not at all. The character arc carried by Ray Winstone is one of the most complex and fascinating arcs I’ve ever seen. It’s just so damn realistic—and I say that knowing all the deconstructionist skepticism that goes along with any utterance of “realism” in relation to even a low budget indie British film like this. Ray Winstone proves it again, if you couldn’t tell by the relatively cartoonish performance he had to give in The Departed (not to mention The Proposition), that he is indeed one of the best actors in the world alive today. The cast is amazing—Kathy Burke gives us one of the best female leads in modern cinema as an abused wife, not The Abused Wife. She has more individuality and humanity than basically every female lead in the last 5 Oscar seasons combined. You’ve got Jamie Foreman (who I recognized instantly as the memorable Lennie Taylor in Gangster No. 1), Charlie Creed-Miles (the young monk in The Fifth Element) giving a great performance, and the one and only Edna Doré, who frankly, is the best “Old Lady” actress in the fucking world—seriously, if you need an elderly woman and you need her to bring something extra, a bit of extra Something, you call Edna. You might need the subtitles on to get past all the Cockney streaming by like cigarette butts flowing down the Thames, but at least you’ll be able to count the amount of times they say “cunt” (a record amount according to wikipedia). Oh and did I mention this was the little pet project of Gary fucking Oldman? For years my favourite actor, there was no way I wasn’t going to watch Gary’s first time as a writer/director. This is textbook stuff for what a first film should be, for what a domestic drama should be, and for what naturalistic filmmaking should be. I would rank this alongside anything Ken Loach, and I don’t say that lightly.