Film review: Wild Bill (15)
IN A NUTSHELL
Touching, funny and fierce, this story of East End lost boys finding each other is an impressive debut from Dexter Fletcher.
Dexter Fletcher has not wandered far in his impressive directorial debut - a tale of mockney gangsters and broken homes.
Instead of exotic travels into a fantastic other-world, the star has dug deep in the familiar and found, within his impressive cast of characters, true heart.
Set in Stratford against the chill winds and steely structures of an Olympic site under construction, he has put together a warm and touching tale of Western-brand redemption.
So easily could he have deviated into the high-camp Guy Ritchie geezer territory - and there is an undoubted nod to the stylish tics of his Lock, Stock director.
But this is so much more - and so much more rewarding - than a drug dealer's dandy dance.
Fletcher's years in the business have not gone to waste - every 30 second cameo is a face and a performance - Marc Warren, Andy Serkis, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jaime Winstone, Sean Pertwee - memorably here and gone.
At the fulcrum of the piece is Bill himself, played with a hapless vulnerability by Charlie Creed-Miles.
Out of prison, he seeks his family only to find his two boys fending for themselves and doing quite happily without him thank you very much.
He wants to flee but circumstances force the lost boys together and shoots of tenderness begin to merge and intermingle.
Dean (Will Poulter) resents that his dad is back, taking over the role he adopted when mum did a runner. Jimmy (Sammy Williams) is more amenable to the stranger, which only incurs his sibling's wrath. For his part, artless dodger Bill is more wayward older brother than father figure.
The makeshift family is clueless but not entirely hopeless as they grope around unfamiliar feelings.
Meanwhile, the outside world keeps intruding. Bill's not wanted by his old dealer pals but his youngest is getting caught up. It needs sorting and Bill has to decide if he's prepared to go to war for a kid he barely knows.
Fletcher, who co-wrote with Danny King, balances the tone perfectly allowing for the foolish lie that the inevitable moistness of the eye is born of laughter not sentiment.