North v South: Long Time Coming
This film is aggravating for a number of reasons. The concept of a forbidden love between young, star-crossed lovers caught up in a violent feud that predates their very existence has been done many times, and this iteration does little to innovate a formula that now verges on losing its potency. There’s a wealth of acting talent on screen, yet the script and characterisation condemns them to near-parody. There are some nice ideas and inclusions here and there – the transvestite assassin Gustave proves an innovative and sorely needed addition to the predominantly 2D cast – plus sweeping vistas of English moors juxtaposed against the seedier parts of London’s underbelly make for a colourful and engaging visual experience. But the narrative plays out like the countless examples of its archetype have before it, ultimately leaving unanswered the question: why did this particular story need to be told one more time?
Terry Singer (Elliot Tittensor) and Willow Clarke (Charlotte Hope) cannot be together in public as they are associated with two rival criminal factions. An unsteady truce is being negotiated, however the machinations of fate and resident psychopath/idiot Gary Little (Brad Moore) have other ideas. Our young lovers must navigate the deadly intrigue and escape if they are to have a chance of happiness. One of the biggest missteps of the film is the decision to introduce their romance in media res – we are introduced to them already established as a couple and they are in love because the film tells us they are.
This is arguably the principle reason Long Time Coming fails: it opts to tell rather than show. With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, we see no evidence that either gang boss possesses the cunning or self-awareness to run the most successful criminal networks in England. Scenes of puce-coloured old men impotently screaming their rage at inanimate objects don’t evoke the terror of a London crime lord’s wrath but rather the discomfort of watching a grown man roaring at a television set. The film appears inspired by the works of Guy Ritchie, but is reticent to embrace the camp melodrama inherent in their charm. It plays the joke entirely straight-faced, with a result that assures you it’s to be taken seriously while you watch Bernard Hill take a bite out of a wooden bar stool.
North v South : Long Time Coming is released nationwide on 28th August 2015.
Watch the trailer for North v South: Long Time Coming here: