Hanif Kureishi’s London Kills Me, a flabby slice of London street life among pushers and hustlers, drags itself across the screen for 107 minutes and collapses in a dramatic mess on the sidewalk. First directorial outing by the Anglo-Pakistani scripter of My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid shows the same interest in London’s culturally mixed sub-life, sans anti-Thatcherism subtext.
Main character is the Candide-like Clint (Justin Chadwick), who hangs out with a group led by small-time dealer Muffdiver (Steven Mackintosh). To raise the cash for a job in a swank local eatery, Clint joins in Muffdiver’s plans to go big time and helps himself to latter’s hidden stash. He’s also got eyes for Muffdiver’s heroin-hooked g.f. Sylvie (Emer McCourt).
Loose plot trawls in a host of other characters, including a sex-obsessed liberal (Fiona Shaw), an Indian (Roshan Seth) who runs a Sufi center and Clint’s mom (Eleanor David), who lives in the country with a thuggish, middle-aged Elvis freak (Alun Armstrong).
What was obviously meant as an ironic look at lost souls in 1990s London rapidly blurs into a string of undramatic incidents. Pic recalls free-living late 1960s items, but without their buzz and color. Result, under Kureishi’s unfocused helming, is drab.