Urban Hymn is a new coming-of-age drama written by Nick Moorcroft and directed by Michael Caton-Jones, most known for The Jackal and City By The Sea. Having had its premiere at film festivals worldwide in 2015 – the Toronto International Film Festival among them – the film will now have its official UK debut in late September.
The film begins with a woman named Kate (Shirley Henderson) who, after having suffered a tremendous loss, decides to become a social worker for troubled youths. Jamie (Letitia Wright), an orphan that is consumed by her damaging friendship with Leanne (Isabella Laughland), is the one that Kate desperately seeks out to help. The pair have strenuous beginnings, but their mutual bereavement soon establishes a parent-child bond. The demure Jamie is speedily presented with opportunities she did not dare dream of, but which are guaranteed to bring forth a profitable future – much to Leanne’s resentment.
While the acting in Urban Hymn was perfectly balanced, the story, however, failed to give a markedly lasting impression. Henderson does a marvellous job at portraying the desolate wife and mother who had been withering like an abandoned flower on the windowsill of a London townhouse. Wright is adept at playing the timid, yet persevering teen, and her performance nicely contrasts with Laughland’s combative spirit. The characters of Kate’s disgruntled husband and the kind director of the choir Jamie joins were likewise satisfactory in their performances by Steven Mackintosh and Ian Hart, respectively.
Despite this, Urban Hymn is not a movie that is overly unique. The script mainly suffers by its predictability, which is upsetting, considering Moorcroft is capable of much better, as we have seen with 2010’s Burke & Hare. It seems as if it was influenced too greatly by films with the same thematics. As a story about social mobility, the movie does present its viewers with the sad truth of how choice and opportunity can drastically shape a person’s life.
Urban Hymn is released in selected cinemas on 30th September 2016.
Watch the trailer for Urban Hymn here: