What we need is a Plan B
According to present day media, you would be lead to believe that there is a malaise in the UK, it’s a very sick country indeed. But that’s the media’s view. It also has an agenda. It’s agenda is to make money, from you and your fears. Your fears encourage compliancy, also instilling belief that the state has your interests at heart. They don’t. And Ben Drew aka Plan B knows this.
It was the UK press who promoted the idea of the ‘chav’ (working class youth), propagating a constant stream of stories to instill fear into the average individual, now walking down the street, instantly nervous at the sight of a ‘Hoody’ crossing their path.
As with a lot of things in life, fact follows fiction, and said ‘Hoodies’ began to act the role that was scripted for them. Scripted by people who would financially benefit from their very existence. Plan B would have been classed as a member of this cast, even by his own words. Judging by his body of work, commitment to his peers and on the outstanding merits of this, his first full length directorial debut in ‘Ill Manors‘, it’s ‘youths’ like him who should be running the country.
Clearly inspired by Mathieu Kassovtz’s outstanding 1995 movie ‘La Haine’, which was in turn inspired by French youth riots, Ben is on record as saying the film gave him the inspiration to change his ways, realising there could be other ways to express his frustrations at the environment he found himself in. With the London riots of 2011 as another contributing factor in the mix, the timing was perfect.
Ill Manors is much more brutal and cruel fair than ‘La Haine’, and in some ways is better for it. If things are to be fixed, this brutal truth has to be told, and we should listen.
The interweaving strands of the many acrid stories in the movie are all based on experiences Drew had or knew about. None of these stories you would wish upon your worst enemy.
Set in the east of London round Forest Gate way, the deliberately ostracised people of modern UK collide in ever increasing distructive situations (you will never think of kebab shops in the same way again), in the daily struggle to keep their heads from sinking under the filth. However bleak the overriding stories are, there is still the glimmer of hope, in that there must be something better than what’s presented to them. And praise be for that, as it is quite a relentless intense ride.
The opening few minutes has more drug taking than the whole of ‘Scarface’. But there’s no glamour in Ill Manors, it’s harsh fluorescent tube light bright, burning the raw and filthy into your eyes. You can’t look away, There’s no where else to look, all the crevasses are exposed.
As a device to sugar the pill, Drew has also written the soundtrack and in an effective ploy, some characters are actually introduced via an accompanying song. It’s almost a musical at times, but nothing you’ve seen before and it’s a powerful tool. Brutal tales are some how made almost digestible amongst the flurry of beats, in what is an outstanding soundtrack.
But there is still hope. Riz Ahmed’s character Aaron is the glimmer, though very far from innocent himself. Battling conflicting desires, good and bad in the near perfect storm of a bad day. Riz, as pretty much everyone in the film put in excellent performances. Considering such a large majority of non-actors were involved, it shows the powers of Drew’s influence. With even the smallest encouragement great things can happen.
Ben is clearly inspired by great movies, he doesn’t plagerise, but grows stronger from their seeds. We are thrown in deep, through the visuals, music and words used on the street. Nearly all our senses are kicked to the ground.
There is humour. It’s human nature to find levity even in the darkest moments, and dark humour it is accordingly. Again, it’s another device to ready us to confront another aspect of human nature we intuitively turn away from.
I’ve deliberately steered away from describing the story lines involved in Ill Manors, as it’s not the sort of check list that many (I hope) would have as a criteria for seeing a movie. But as many people as possible should see this movie. It’s brutally incredible, unforgiving, pulling no punches. It is an adult film, for adults (young and old), and is all the better for it.
Despite what the current Government or media may have you thinking, this country isn’t broken. There’s no way it can be as long as we have people like Ben Drew battling against vested interests to tell and expose the truth. It may not be what we want to hear, but it will heal us.
Ill Manors is released through Revolver Entertainment on 6th June.