“Tales from a Hard City” follows the mostly deluded showbiz aspirations of several plucky young residents of economically depressed Sheffield, England. Closer to scripted drama than straight docu, pic was finished on June 16 and world preemed the next day at the Marseilles docu fest, where it took top honors to mixed response.
Spirited petty thief Glen has a knack for karaoke. Paul, an ex-boxer-turned-actor, spars verbally with his “image consultant” and tries to sweet-talk local auto dealers into a free car in exchange for his charisma. Foxy young mother Sarah tries to parlay the “Greek incident”– she was jailed while on holiday in Greece for alleged lewd dancing — from tabloid fodder into a recording career under the gung-ho but questionable guidance of various entrepreneurial types, including local bar owner Wayne Chadwick.
Casual, somewhat indulgent account has its comic moments but remains a slight piece of work about basically likable young people trying to make a buck against the odds.
Suspiciously neat evolution of pic’s narrative and its aura of partial re-enactment fueled debate at the Mareilles unspooling about where the true boundaries of documentary currently lie.