LONDON TO BRIGHTON (Paul Andrew Williams). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (April 18). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNN
London To Brighton is the British gangster movie Guy Ritchie would make if he had a soul. It’s a taut thriller about the exploited, terrified people on the bottom rung of any illegal enterprise, trying to negotiate their way out of an awful, awful jam. Nobody has any fun, and no one gets to revel in the hard-man lifestyle. It’s just hell.
The protagonists are Kelly (Lorraine Stanley), a working girl of indeterminate age (she looks to be pushing 30, but she’s probably just out of her teens), and an 11-year-old named Joanne (Georgia Groome). We first meet them after something terrible has happened, leaving Kelly with a hell of a shiner, Joanne in a state of shock and a well-dressed psychotic (Sam Spruell) on their trail.
As they flee along the titular train route, writer-director Paul Andrew Williams flashes back to the events that brought them to this point, and they are indeed horrible – though not particularly surprising, as these things go.
There’s a gratifying depth to Kelly’s maternal interaction with Joanne, giving us a reason to care about these characters beyond the usual redemptive arcs – something I’d like to see Mr. Madonna try one of these days.