East End gangster movies get a history lesson in this time-hopping thriller about an adulterous jazz club owner (Shane Richie) in 30s London, who gets into trouble when he cheats on his wife. Blundering, leaden, and utterly unconvincing, it's the kind of badly conceived drama British cinema could do without.
In the weeks before the beginning of the Second World War, the Say When jazz club keeps London's Shoreditch swinging. Run by Thomas (Richie) and his wife Massie (Natasha Wightman), it's a place where gangsters and aristocrats, home office gents, and loose women can kick back and relax.
"BLACKMAIL, DRUGS, AND SUICIDE"
As the host with the most, Thomas' job is to keep everything running as slickly as his Brylcreamed mullet. But when he starts having an affair with singer Butterfly (Joely Richardson), this carefully balanced world disintegrates into blackmail, drugs, and suicide.
Cut to the present day, where Shoreditch resident Tom (Adam Ross) inherits a Shoreditch office block. Down in the basement, Tom, his girlfriend (Claire Tyler), and best mate (Brian Bovell) discover the bricked up entrance to the Say When club and decide to turn it into a modern jazz venue. Only there's a corpse - and a nasty family secret - waiting for them.
With its troubled production history - Richie reportedly sank half a million of his own money into the film to ease its financial worries - it's tempting to give Shoreditch the benefit of the doubt. As the film's stilted acting and credibility-stretching storyline takes hold, though, such generosity disappears quicker than Richie's bank balance.
Had this focused solely on the star's 30s wheeler-dealer, it's quite possible Shoreditch might have been less contrived. But because the dual narrative relies on the modern day sections for its emotional sucker punch, this falls a long way wide of the mark. It looks like Richie will be working double shifts at the Queen Vic for the foreseeable future.