When I first saw singer/rapper Plan B perform on a Late Night with Jools Holland I really liked the sound of his music. His second album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, on which he sings is still a joy to listen to. Ben Drew (his real name) is multi talented though as he also decided to try his hand at writing and directing Ill Manors, a very dark crime movie.
Ill Manors tells various stories of different people all in the same neighbourhood. The stories are all related and as the movie progresses sometimes come across each other, with often violent results. It’s a movie that could easily be compared to a raw version of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but without the laughs. It is as bleak as Tyrannosaur was, but because this is about a lot of people and deals with gangs, prostitution, drugs and other shady dealings I would say it is even darker than that. It really isn’t a movie you should watch if you are feeling a bit down.
Ben Drew shows that he has watched a lot of movies and knows how to interweave various stories. Occasionally you will be able to guess what will happen next, but for a debut film I was impressed. He has managed to get a cast together who are all excellent and really sell these stories to you, whether it is of a young kid proving himself in a gang or a two friends trying to make some money, you care for them. For a lot of characters specific music has been written where a rapper (I didn’t check if this was also Plan B) raps about their life. You might say that it’s better to show then tell a story, but it works here without it being used too much. Still you might be wondering with all the praise I’ve given it why it’s still got such a low score. Reason for that is that I left the cinema feeling very down. I don’t mind when a movie manages to do so, but the amount of grim/bleak/violent stories that were told were too much for me. So be prepared for it if you decide to see it (which I think you should). Still I do think it’s an impressive first movie and I’m hoping to see more of Ben Drew’s work in the future.