Great British Icons- Shane Meadows: 24 7: Twenty Four Seven

I remember the first time I watched Twenty Four Seven. I knew very little of Meadows’ work, and was yet to be fully appreciative of his unique style which I have come to love like no other. I remember coming away and really enjoying it. I’ve been singing it’s praise for years. But a recent re watch of this film gave me a very odd feeling, one that i’m not used to with Meadows- disappointment.

Now obviously the film is actually pretty bloody good. It has Bob Hoskins in it for a start so obviously it’s good. And the massively underrated Bruce Jones. Even James Corden turns up- (which is actually just strange).

The entire film actually feels almost like a homage to some of the great, early British Cinema (maybe with a bit of Raging Bull thrown in too.) The opening sequence is actually reminiscent of Housing Problems, one of the earlier British documentaries which serves as a commentary to the social housing issues of the time. As the film progresses, there’s also an edge of Reisz and Loach. But this is the fundamental problem. The only person who can ‘do’ Reisz is Reisz- the only person who can do Loach is Loach. Twenty Four Seven was Meadows’ second feature, so it is understandable that every filmmaker will obviously grow and experiment until they’ve found a style or a signature that they’re comfortable with, but it just seems so far away from his usual style that it’s almost impossible to label it as one of his. Even the heavily criticised Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (which I actually LIKED by the by) still had an element of his style- his quirky humour that defines him, his strong character-lead screenplays, but Twenty Four Seven just sticks out like a sore thumb.

It would also be impossible for me, as any one who has seen the film, not to mention the questionable acting that takes place from some of the actors. It’s a harsh reality, but it has to be said that no matter how amazing a script is, or the director, or the cinematography- bad acting is a HUGE killer. Even Hoskins, who is very charming and sweet and does put on a wonderful performance, can’t quite master the Northern accent and it is distracting. There are no Lols, no Shauns, no Richards, no Morells- that can be taken away from the film.

However, the film is not all lost. The soundtrack smacks of Meadows all over the cinematography is stunning (entirely black and white without being cheesy or distracting) and the story is genuinely touching if a little rushed. The film was very well received at the time and it’s certainly deserves the praise it received – but it wasn’t until later that Meadows really found his style- a style that now makes him one of the greatest directors of this generation- (I’m sorry, I just can’t end on a negative note).

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