"The film manages to combine the edgy, consternation that is induced into British dramas, with a charming wit..."
It seemed quite fitting that my final venture into the BFI London Film Festival this autumn, was to see Wild Bill, a film set in the same city hosting the event.
Written and directed by Dexter Fletcher, Wild Bill is the respected actor’s debut feature, and having worked under Guy Ritchie when the director was in his prime, you can certainly see where Fletcher learnt his trade, as Wild Bill is a compelling and gripping drama, emulating British films such as Lock Stock and two Smoking Barrels, and The Long Good Friday.
The story centres around Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles), who returns home having spent eight years in prison. However, upon his return he finds his two sons, Dean (Will Poulter) and Jimmy (Sammy Williams), both just 15 and 11 years old, fending for themselves following their mothers departure.
Bill isn’t back looking for trouble, in fact quite the opposite, as he seeks to make amends on lost time and rejoin his two sons and kick-start his family. However, trouble finds him as he struggles to escape from his reputation and nickname ‘Wild Bill’, as it seems unfeasible for the ex-felon to turn good.
The film manages to combine the edgy, consternation that is induced into British dramas, with a charming wit, in a similar way to how Ritchie’s earlier films managed. The film could so easily have been sensational and unrealistic, but thanks to a good script it wasn’t the case at all, and the sharp one-liners seemed genuine and suited the nature of the production.
The clever script and riveting storyline was also matched by the strong performances from the cast, especially the two young boys. Poulter, playing the eldest son Dean, who works full-time on a building site, providing for his younger brother in place of his mum, was fantastic. More commonly known in Britain for his comic performances, starring in the sketch show School of Comedy, there was no humour in this role, as Dean was a self-assured character, who had very little time for his father.
He provided much intensity to the role and I think that in order to make a 15-year-old character seem mature and grown-up enough to live life as an adult, the actor playing the part must also be someone ahead of his years and the maturity of this young actor is incredible.
Creed-Miles was also impressive as Bill, as despite coming across as quite gracious and undisruptive, he had a streak in him where you just knew he was capable of a fair amount of damage and never once questioned his ability to be the Wild Bill we are continuously informed about.
It’s a return to form for British gangster dramas, as for the first time in a number of years, the cockney accent combined with violence and melodrama, actually worked well on the big-screen and didn’t feel contrived or unnatural at all. Ritchie has been unimpressive and mediocre for a number of years now and with this being Fletcher’s debut, it seems that Britain could well have a new, gifted director to pay attention too, as Wild Bill is an enthralling, tense feature, and hopefully, a sign of good things to come.