Twenty Four Seven (1997)
Dir.: Shane Meadows
Cast: Bob Hoskins; Frank Harper; Bruce Jones
After a string of successful short films, a young Shane Meadows directed his first feature film in 1997. Twenty Four Seven is an eye-opening depiction of post-industrial England, gang culture and the influence of fatherhood. Meadows highlights the destructive environment teenagers were raised in 1980’s Britain and the repercussions of Margret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister. Politically motivated, the film explores one of the most deprived areas of Britain and the lack of opportunity for the youth in that era.
Shot in black and white, the film is a flashback of Alan Darcy’s (Bob Hoskins) revival of the 101 boxing club, which has become derelict and disregarded. Bob Hoskin’s, who plays Darcy, is wonderfully charismatic and gentle as he attempts to get the youngsters off the streets and bring together the two rival gangs in the ring. His elderly wisdom demands the attention of the boys and despite being a kind, selfless gentlemen he can also be a disciplinarian which is respected by the young lads. Not only does he teach the lads the art of boxing, he gives them hope and a purpose whilst nurturing their aggression.
As the 101 boxing club takes shape, a local gangster, Ronnie Marsh (Frank Harper), offers Darcy the cash to put on a boxing event as long as he accepts his son, Tonka (James Corden), into the boxing club. Harper, who plays the cockney financier, is fantastic and his ‘geezer’ depiction is pitch perfect whilst a young James Corden is equally as convincing in his nervous portrayal as a son trying to impress his imposing father. Darcy agrees to the terms and conditions which allows the group of lads to line up against a local boxing club.
The film is a great depiction of the youthful spirit among young lads and given some guidance and purpose they can really achieve something. A seldom seen character, such as Darcy, is refreshing and the issues portrayed are not a far cry from the modern day troubles faced in Britain, especially with the current economic situation. Whilst exploring the destructive potential of alcoholism and economic depression it is thought provoking and socially reflective.
A story of friendship, fatherhood and rejuvenation in a community, it is social realism at its finest. It is definitely not a film to be overlooked when discussing the brilliance of Shane Meadows and it gave him a fantastic platform to build upon for his later films, A Romeo For Romeo Brass (1999), Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) and This Is England (2006).
3 out of 5.