It is tough to make disparate events converge convincingly on screen without situations becoming forced, or strands left too loosely connected. In Jim O’Hanlon’s 100 Streets, however, three contrasting lives intersect perfectly with each other, with the backdrop, south London’s Battersea, becoming a character in its own right.
There, Emily (Gemma Arterton) is a weary mum of two whose estranged husband Max (Idris Elba), a serial womaniser and ex-England rugby captain, has been kicked out for sleeping with the nanny. George (Charlie Creed-Miles), a loveable but bumbling cabbie, is seeking to adopt a child with his wife Kathy (Kierston Wareing), until a freak accident scuppers their plans. And Kingsley (Franz Drameh), a drug dealer who has done time in prison, is inspired to change his ways after a chance meeting in a graveyard.
It is London-born Drameh’s sincere portrayal of Kingsley that really stands out, and he combines a youthful idealism with a battle-hardened exterior in a role that will hopefully attract him the acclaim he deserves. Elba, too, is gradually allowed to reach his full, breath-taking potential as an increasingly volatile Max leads us to a shocking showdown. Indeed, the tension picks up more than the opening scenes would suggest, leading each strand to a separate, but equally poignant, conclusion. This makes up for a slightly contrived script in places, with many conversations between Emily and rebound boyfriend Jake (Tom Cullen) smacking slightly of a certain semi-scripted reality TV show filmed in the same area.
Some carefully considered cinematography, too, helps divert attention from these slightly wooden moments. 100 Streets is scattered liberally with meticulously framed shots of a city that can change from beautiful to callous in a flash – much like those who live within it. There is a slight risk, though, that it is an audience of Londoners that is really being targeted here, with some of the emotion perhaps becoming lost on those not so familiar with the city. Nonetheless, this is a heartfelt and touching drama that ultimately shows the capital, and those who live side by side within it, in a positive light. While some lives may seem diametrically opposed, they are perhaps more entwined than expected, linked both by location and a hard-won hope for the future.
100 Streets is released nationwide on 11th November 2016.
Watch the trailer for 100 Streets here: