Film Review: The Rise

As someone born in Liverpool, who spent 17 years of their life living in Manchester and Sheffield, I am able to confirm that the menfolk of the north can get a bit, well, silly when it comes to their mates.

Go for a few pints, a few games of pool and to the footy together enough times, and the blokes involved are likely to view each other as blood brothers, as closely bonded as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The Rise UK Movie AKA Wasteland

Shot in Leeds and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Rowan Athale, The Rise is suffused with such insensible brotherly love; soaked in it even, like a mandrill just jizzed over by a masturbating monkey-lover.

There are four young geezers involved in this orgiastic sausage-fest: Harvey (Luke Treadaway), just out on the street after a year in clink, and his three best buddies, Dempsey (Misfits’ Iwan Rheon), Charlie (Shameless’s Gerard Kearns) and Dodd (Harry Potter’s Matthew Lewis)

But where, pray tell, does the creature we call woman slot into this outbreak of man-bondage? Solely embodied in The Rise by Harvey’s old flame Nicola (Vanessa Kirby), is it her fate to just be some twinkling trinket – by turns chastising and sympathising with the hot rod and love spuds, dependent on what the particular scene requires?

Er, yes, actually.

Blowing off the bird (phwoar! Wa-hey! Etcetera!), Harvey is focused on getting his own back on the man who fitted him up in the first place, local tosspot Roper (Neil Maskell), with his scheme revolving around getting the bloody good lads together for a bloody good heist.

**The trailer contins some strong language**

Heralding his movie as Kes meets Ocean’s Eleven, Athale has already made a mark with The Rise (previously known as Wasteland), with it earning him a nomination for Best Directorial Debut at last year’s British Independent Film Awards. For the record, he was beaten to the bauble by Bart Layton for The Imposter, although at least he was spared the ignominy of losing to Plan B, aka the chip shop Mark Ronson. 

Such acclaim is not ill-founded, with The Rise demanding your attention through the careful, considered approach it takes to its (male) characters. Elucidated through the evident relish for dialogue that’s inherent to Athale’s script, the interactions between Harvey and pals have a lot of northern soul; humour, heart, but little in the way of irony.

Athale bides his time building to the robbery, allowing the central quartet’s doubts and motivations the time and space to manifest, thereby giving the film a depth that goes beyond the surface swagger. 

The heist itself, when it does arrive, is not the strongest section of the story, eventually proving itself a locus of the unbelievable to rival the Bermuda Triangle.

Further adding to this credibility deficit is the would-be Usual Suspects-style duel between a bruised and bloodied Harvey, reflecting back on events in a police interview room, and the cop charged with getting to the truth of the matter, D.I. West (a supporting cameo from the always welcome Timothy Spall).

Without wishing to give the game away, the plausibility progression of these scenes goes from relatively gripping and engaging to so thoroughly biscuit-taking as to leave you doubting whether there’s any dunkable crumbly goodness left anywhere across the entire nation.

The Rise is released in the UK on 20 September