That hoary proverb about charity beginning at home would appear to be the inspiration for shorts director Tinge Krishnan's murky debut feature, "Junkhearts."

That hoary proverb about charity beginning at home would appear to be the inspiration for shorts director Tinge Krishnan’s murky debut feature, “Junkhearts.” But the moral of this structurally addled urban drama could be summed up more simply: It’s generally not a good idea to let homeless addicts move into your apartment. Youth violence, post-Iraq trauma and the class ladder are among the floating concerns of Simon Frank’s alarmist script, but the compressed, splintered narrative offers no room to explore any one of them coherently. Presence of Eddie Marsan and Romola Garai as headliners won’t be enough to attract eyeballs outside the U.K.

In bleakest East London, brooding ex-soldier Frank (Marsan) rather rashly takes in prickly black teenager Lynette (erratic newcomer Candese Reid), who’s sleeping outside his local liquor store; unfortunately, her volatile Irish boyfriend, Danny (Tom Sturridge, miscast), follows. Elsewhere, chic career woman Christine (Garai) frenetically juggles single motherhood, a job and a robust drug habit: This parallel thread is infrequently visited, but its connection to Marsan’s story is all too obvious. Logic falters as the pic pushes for cheaply ironic reversals; over-ambitious, focus-shy lensing style doesn’t clarify matters.

Junkhearts

U.K.

Production

A Soda Pictures release of a Coded Pictures and Hustle Prods. presentation. Produced by Karen Katz. Directed by Tinge Krishnan. Screenplay, Simon Frank.

Crew

Camera (color), Catherine Derry; editor, Alastair Reid; music, Christopher N. Bangs; production designer, Kristian Milsted; costume designer, Camille Benda. Reviewed at BFI Southbank, London, Sept. 26, 2011. (Also in London Film Festival -- New British Cinema.) Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Eddie Marsan, Candese Reid, Romola Garai, Tom Sturridge, Valerie Gogan, John Boyega, Chris Coghill.

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