At last - after years in the Mockney doldrums, the British crime flick gets a double-barrelled shot in the arm. London To Brighton is a brutal and brilliantly assured debut from writer/director Paul Andrew Williams. And he's not the only new name to watch - there are terrific turns from unknowns Lorraine Stanley and Georgia Groome, respectively playing a hooker and a teenage runaway in flight from some very unsavoury characters. World-beatingly grim, it'll put you through the wringer, but you won't regret the journey.
So, why are Kelly (Stanley) and Joanne (Groome) making such a mad dash from capital to coast? There's no time for questions at the start, the film takes off like a rocket, with our heroines hiding out in a public lavatory after a mysterious but clearly traumatic incident. Then we see gangster's son Stuart (Sam Spruell) set a deadline for Kelly's wimp pimp Derek (Johnny Harris) to find the two females. And eventually, flashback by flashback, we discover the awful truth of what the women did and why.
"DEALS IN SOME PRETTY APPALLING SUBJECT MATTER"
Though it steams along like a fast train from Victoria, London To Brighton doesn't sacrifice realism for momentum. The dialogue, performances and use of low-life locations keep a rigorously tight check on credibility. And while Williams deals in some pretty appalling subject matter - principally paedophilia - he maintains balance through the sympathetic shading of the central relationship. Maybe the ending's a bit excessive, but it's hard to overstate the excitement of seeing fresh British talent break through with such energy.