×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘A Hundred Streets’

This well-meaning but slight triptych of British urban parables doesn't quite earn the star quality of Idris Elba and Gemma Arterton.

With:
Frank Drameh, Gemma Arterton, Idris Elba, Charlie Creed-Miles, Ken Stott, Kierston Wareing, Tom Cullen, Jo Martin, Kola Bokinni, Hope Kiernan, Jordan Nash.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2990126/

Life, as the introductory voiceover in “A Hundred Streets” informs us, ultimately amounts to little more than “long periods of waiting broken up by brief moments of change.” In the spirit of that observation, director Jim O’Hanlon’s earnestly conceived but often banal British ensemble drama counts on a handful of contrived narrative jolts to activate its ambling gallery of slender, slightly entangled character sketches. Seemingly modelled as London’s more polite answer to Paul Haggis’s “Crash,” complete with one fateful road collision but minus the burning sociopolitical rhetoric, this brightly shot diversion would just about pass muster as a midweek television serial. As a feature film, however, “A Hundred Streets” seems oddly unequal to the status of its charismatic name cast, headlined by Idris Elba and Gemma Arterton.

Still, it’s the stars’ presence — particularly that of a cruising Elba, who also offers his services as producer and music supervisor, but keeps his rapping skills under a bushel this time — that offer this VOD-friendly fodder what commercial potential it has, enabling an otherwise improbable U.S. distribution deal with Samuel Goldwyn Pictures. (The pic unspooled at the Los Angeles Film Festival this summer, but hasn’t cracked the fest circuit across the pond.) To its credit, “A Hundred Streets” (billed as “100 Streets” in marketing materials, but not in the onscreen credits) doesn’t cynically exploit its crossover potential: The relative authenticity of the film’s London milieu, down to the distinctive urban slang wielded by its younger characters, is its most appealing virtue. The title, incidentally, derives from “The Oldest Thing in London,” a romantic ode to the Big Smoke by early 20th-century poet Cicely Fox Smith.

The rougher spoken-word stylings of teenage miscreant Kingsley (the promising Franz Drameh) provide irregular narration in first-time feature writer Leon F. Butler’s screenplay, which toggles a trio of stories from diverse points on the capital’s broad spectrum of class and privilege. Raised by a weary single mother (Jo Martin) on an impoverished council estate in southwest London, Kingsley has no productive outlet for his impulses as a writer and performer, sliding instead into the drug-dealing and gang violence that consumes men in his demographic; only a chance encounter with benevolent theater veteran Terrence (Ken Stott) points him toward a spotlit future. It’s a hackneyed arc, but Drameh — previously seen in secondary roles in “Attack the Block” and “Edge of Tomorrow” — has enough bristling raw talent of his own to sell the diamond-in-the-rough sentiment.

Across the river, in moneyed Chelsea, dashing former England rugby captain Max (Elba) and his reluctantly retired actress wife Emily (Arterton, rather affecting) are in the midst of a fractious trial separation following the former’s uncovered infidelity. As she faces a personal crossroads, seeking to revive her stage career while half-committing to a romantic dalliance with old flame Jake (“Downton Abbey’s” Tom Cullen, sorely underused), Max slides precipitously into alcoholism and cocaine addiction — climaxing, or rather bottoming out, in the least plausible of the film’s dramatic standoffs. (Perhaps due to budgetary constraints, the film’s celebrity-focused strand most tests credibility: for a national sporting hero embroiled in personal scandal, Max seems to have a remarkable knack for repelling tabloid paparazzi.) Between these two social extremes, drawn more lightly than either, lies the story of average-joe cabbie George (Charlie Creed-Miles), whose placid dreams of starting a family with his lovingly patient wife Kathy (Kierston Wareing) are knocked off course when he’s involved in a tragic traffic accident.

In addition to an obvious assortment of multi-stranded film precedents, Butler appears to take inspiration from such multi-faceted, class-oriented domestic television dramas as Jimmy McGovern’s “The Street,” though his storytelling ultimately reveals soapier roots. While the film initially exercises commendable restraint in braiding its separate narratives, its second half grows increasingly reliant on pat connections and coincidences: By the time a critical pregnancy test is discovered in the garbage, “A Hundred Streets” isn’t, well, a hundred miles removed from the episodes of “Coronation Street” and “Casualty” on which O’Hanlon cut his efficient directorial teeth. If the proceedings maintain a certain cinematic sheen in spite of it all, we can thank accomplished cinematographer Philipp Blaubach (“The Disappearance of Alice Creed”), whose airy, spring-toned compositions effectively subvert our drizzly expectations of most London-set kitchen-sink outings.

Film Review: 'A Hundred Streets'

Reviewed online, London, Nov. 13, 2016. (In Los Angeles Film Festival — Limelight.) Running time: 93 MIN.

Production: (U.K.) A Samuel Goldwyn Films (in U.S.)/Vertigo Releasing (in U.K.) release of a Caudwell Films, One Square Mile presentation in association with Umedia of a Caudwell Films, West Fiction Films, CrossDay production in association with What's the Story, Green Door Pictures. (International sales: Umedia Entertainment, London.) Produced by Pippa Cross, Leon F. Butler, Idris Elba, Ros Hubbard. Executive producers, John Caudwell, Xavier Alcan, Thomas R. Atherton, Justin Bache, Janette Day, Mark Denney, Natasha Dwyer, Joe Hutchinson.

Crew: Directed by Jim O'Hanlon. Screenplay, Leon F. Butler. Camera (color, widescreen), Philipp Blaubach. Editors, Mark Eckersley, Chris Gill.

With: Frank Drameh, Gemma Arterton, Idris Elba, Charlie Creed-Miles, Ken Stott, Kierston Wareing, Tom Cullen, Jo Martin, Kola Bokinni, Hope Kiernan, Jordan Nash.

More Film

  • 'Super Pets' Release Date Pushed Back

    Film News Roundup: 'Super Pets' Movie Moves Back a Year, Avoiding 'John Wick 4'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Super Pets” has moved back to 2022, “Into the Ashes” gets bought and veteran executive David Gale has a new gig. RELEASE DATE Warner Bros. has pushed back the release of “DC Super Pets” back a year, avoiding opening against “John Wick 4.” The studio announced Wednesday that “Super Pets” [...]

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino Documentary 'QT8: The First Eight' Scores Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Wood Entertainment has completed sales for France, Germany, Turkey, Italy and Russia for “QT8: The First Eight,” a documentary that chronicles Quentin Tarantino’s first eight films. The first buyers’ screening took place on Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival. Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” premiered at Cannes on Tuesday night. Producer [...]

  • 'Asbury Park' Doc Covers Bruce Springsteen,

    Film Review: 'Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock 'N Roll'

    A civic Phoenix story is promised and effectively delivered in “Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock ‘N Roll,” even if there’s little doubt that what much of the audience will be hoping for from this documentary is Bruce, the whole Bruce and nothing but the Bruce. The film satisfies a good portion of that craving with [...]

  • Timothy Olyphant Once Upon a Time

    Timothy Olyphant Explains Why He Did 'Hitman' Movie

    The 2007 film adaptation of the “Hitman” video game franchise is … not good. It received a score of 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics panning its incoherent plot and terrible dialogue. So, why did actor Timothy Olyphant take on the lead role as Agent 47? He had a mortgage to pay, he told [...]

  • Daniel Craig

    Daniel Craig to Undergo Ankle Surgery After 'Bond 25' Injury

    Daniel Craig will undergo ankle surgery after sustaining an injury while filming “Bond 25.” “Daniel Craig will be undergoing minor ankle surgery resulting from an injury sustained during filming in Jamaica,” the franchise’s official Twitter account posted. “Production will continue whilst Craig is rehabilitating for two weeks post-surgery. The film remains on track for the [...]

  • Oh Mercy

    Cannes Film Review: 'Oh Mercy'

    It takes more than just watching “Oh Mercy” to understand exactly why Arnaud Desplechin was drawn to the subject matter of his latest movie, a reasonably engrossing police procedural with roots in a 2008 TV documentary. Something of an unexpected detour in the veteran director’s weighty career, the film combines multiple strands to paint a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content