"“Brilliantly made, engaging and compelling film, depicting a strong story, matched by even better performances from the leading roles…”"

It seems that Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur isn’t the only gritty British drama set to hit our screens this autumn. In a field where it’s fair to say Britain excels most significantly, Junkhearts is an illustration of the realism and bleakness that is often so wonderfully portrayed in British productions.

Junkhearts, directed by Tinge Krishnan, set to debut at the 55th London Film Festival, tells the story of Frank (Eddie Marsan), a former soldier, now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, with alcohol his outlet and remedy for his anguish and pain. That is until he meets homeless teenager Lynette (Candese Reid). The pair form an unlikely alliance as Frank offers his spare room to the rebellious youth, and despite their amity, Lynette’s vindictive boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge) ensures that Frank’s goodwill is exploited, turning his house into a drugs den.

In what is a harsh and ominous drama, it’s easy to draw parallels with upcoming release Tyrannosaur, also about the unlikely relationship between two troubled souls. And if there is a common denominator to be found between the two films; it’s the excellent Marsan.

One of Britain’s finest actors, Marsan has the incredible ability for making the audience feel on edge. Despite performing as an inherently good person with a kind heart, you just can’t help but feel constantly tense, worried about what his character may be capable of.

The anxiety and edginess that Marsan induces into the feature, becomes the principal sentiment throughout, as you are always wary of what may occur, an apprehension somewhat analogous to the work of Shane Meadows, or with Paul Andrew Williams’ London to Brighton, as you find yourself constantly awaiting disturbing scenes.

However, despite being in anticipation of such scenes, when they do occur, I don’t feel they come with the same magnitude or intensity that Meadows, for example, manages to grasp. It is still emotional and horribly pragmatic, but lacks that shock value that Meadows ignites in his work.

Along with Marsan’s remarkable performance is a gifted debut for Reid. The youngster, performing in an established production for the very first time, shows glimpses of what could be a very promising future. Her performance as Lynette is sincere and heartfelt, as she strikes the perfect balance between malice and charm.

Despite the amiable and poignant moments to the film, it resists being in any way maudlin or over-sentimental and manages to highlight callous themes such as drugs and war effectively without the use of sensationalism, which could so easily have been an easy cop-out for Krishnan.

Yet what prevails is a really brilliantly made, engaging and compelling film, depicting a strong story, matched by even better performances from the leading roles, as Britain, once again, proves to have the wonderful knack of resolutely portraying all things wrong with modern society. Perhaps not always the greatest indictment into contemporary civilisation, but it makes for a thrilling movie.