It’s easy to understand how, without any sort of backstory, Anti-Social, the latest film from director Reg Traviss, could be filed under the ‘cheap British straight-to-DVD’ lads-mag favourite. British Indie director? Check. Fairly unknown cast of often pigeon-holed ‘geezer/youth’ types? Check. Low budget? Check. But this really isn’t a fair assumption, as becomes astonishingly clear after the first 10 minutes. Anti Social is a crime drama with all the best tropes left in (thrilling chase sequences, tense confrontations) but with an intelligent edge that seek to explore the larger changes in the modern day capital city.
Anti-Social tells the story of two brothers- Dee (Gregg Sulkin) and Marcus (Josh Myers) who seem, initially, to be wildly different. Dee is a graffiti artist whose work has started to become noticed by a Berlin-based gallery owner, who is determined to propel him out of his underworld trappings and in to a legitimate, lucrative business. Dee has a beautiful model girlfriend in Kirsten (Meghan Markle) who is supportive and encouraging of his endeavours. On the flip side there is Marcus, a key member of a highly organised gang who commit heists around the city, robbing high-end department stores. Marcus is a family man, who uses the proceeds of his crimes to support his girlfriend Emma (Sophie Colquhoun) and his struggling mother.
It would have been easy for Traviss to have the brothers at loggerheads, but instead, the brothers are united, bound by their obvious love for each other, and Marcus’ desire to protect him from the double-life he is leading. Their relationship is an allegory for London itself – worlds colliding, sometimes conflicting, often intermingling, but mainly existing side by side.
Traviss has shed light on a subject that has been aching to be explored for a long time; the blending of subcultures and subgroups with the mainstream, accepted cultural landscape of the city. He doesn’t just do this through the plot, as the cast is as carefully crafted as the story itself. All the lead characters are Londoners, a mixture of actors and musicians already recognisable in their field, but largely unfamiliar in a wider sense. The casting of grime King Skepta and UK rapper Devlin is a key to the story as the characters they are portraying. Along with lead actor Josh Myers, a familiar face in the British crime genre, the artists themselves are part of this world that is being shown to us through the screen – it’s life imitating art to an extent.
Anti-Social is not just another British crime film, and it’s not a cheap thriller- it is an exciting, intelligent piece of cinema that is as much for lovers of the genre than it is for a mainstream audience, and should certainly be treated as such.
Originally for Hey U Guys