Wild Bill

Here’s my Blogomatic review of Wild Bill, a not-very-good knockoff of Guy Ritchie’s stick (which is in itself knockoffs of far better directors’ work). I go for a bit of a feminist rant about the marketing of the lead females in the middle for a bit, if you’re interested [it’s the part in italics, fans of obvious-stating]:

Wild Bill has the dubious honour of being part of that most squiffy of sub-genres, the ‘geezer’ picture. Pioneered by Guy Ritchie, the trademarks of this unfortunate film are:

1) a London (usually East End, always rough) location;

2) ‘realistic’ hard bloke dialogue that thinks it’s a lot cleverer than it is, thus rendering it interminably grating and (worse still) boring;

3) a token foreign accent for, y’know, tolerance and stuff. Oh, and there’s  a black guy in it too! But he’s a drug dealer. And he runs away from the final fight, so he’s a coward too;

4) at least one punch-up in a pub (see above);

5) fancy camera movements performed in order to give a sense of stylistic awareness but really just coming off as a cheap knock-off of Scorsese (for lessons on how to rip off Scorsese properly, see the work of Edgar Wright).

[As you might be able to tell, I’m not a huge fan of Guy Ritchie. And don’t go telling me Sherlock Holmes was ace because I fell asleep through the second movie due to all the scenes being in slooooooooooow mooooootiooooooon.]

Yep, Dexter Fletcher’s directorial debut has all of these calling cards – except the excitable camerawork, but without it the photography is so workmanlike it rarely feels like the operator did anything but stick a tripod down and hit record – so you’d be forgiven for thinking you know what to expect. Thankfully, the story doesn’t involve any caper, crime or hook to wrap the itself around, and instead focuses on ‘Wild’ Bill’s attempts to stay out of trouble and reconnect with his wayward sons after eight years in the nick.

I say thankfully, but after the first 30 minutes I realised that I was stuck with these characters with another 60 to go and nary a car chase, bank heist or HILARIOUS telling-off by an older, more experienced actor to keep me occupied or, God forbid, entertained.

What Fletcher’s done could be considered admirable if it wasn’t so poorly executed: he’s tried to merge social realism with the geezer flick. Unfortunately for us, though, he’s combined the two worst elements of those genres – the family and societal woes of the working class of social realism mix with the shitty, hackneyed dialogue of the Guy-zer (see what I done there?) to create a film where people might have similar problems to you, but they talk like such cartoons that you can’t for a minute sympathise.

There are bright spots, mostly in the casting: Andy Serkis revels in his role as godfather-of-the-estate, and the exquisite Olivia Williams is once again wasted in her two scenes as Bill’s probation officer (though her impossibly frizzy ‘do almost makes up for her absence).

Oh yeah, and Ray Winstone’s daughter shows up a couple of times as a child support officer and for some reason that warrants her being on the poster, despite there being two major female roles that aren’t represented in the marketing. Could be something to do with the fact that they look like chavs and we wouldn’t want to give people the impression that there might be poor people in this movie well okay there are poor men but that’s all right coz they’re lads and some of them have funny voices and hats but God no we can’t have girls looking like they HAVEN’T spent four hours in makeup and at the salon because that would give the wrong impression, wouldn’t it?

Then again, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Since when has media marketing ever misled us?

I feel like there should be some kind of summative statement but honestly the film just didn’t leave enough of a lasting impression for that to happen. I suppose its heart’s in the right place (except for the scene where two 16 year-olds are about to have unprotected sex on a couch despite the girl having been witnessed with a pram IN EVERY OTHER SCENE), but the message is so rote by now that it renders Wild Bill pointless: yeah, family’s important. No shit, Sherlock.

It perhaps wasn’t a good thing that I wrote it at 3am. But the sentiment’s there at least, yeah?

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