Filled with more British grit than the London 2012 Olympic Games cement mixer, this tender and yet alternately brutal film from first time director Simon Pearce literally takes the traditional gay narrative by the scruff of its neck and in turning it on its head, yields a terrifying and yet equally compelling cinematic ride.
Setting itself at the street gang level of life, it tells the uncompromising story of Cal; a closeted scally who opts for unprovoked attacks on anyone of a differing outlook, as a way of concealing the true nature of his sexuality from fellow gang members Jonno and girl with attitude Nessa. That is until the sadistic beating of openly gay French exchange student Olivier has Cal calling a halt to the assault, much to the delight of Nessa who seizes this act of betrayal as the means by which to sever the close bond between Cal and Jonno; a man more than happy to get up close and personal with his best mate, blow-back style. Only how long can the love that Cal has found in the arms and body of Olivier last, when those he was once close to, are out for bloody revenge?
In a story drenched in homophobia and bloody violence and no more so than kids getting high on so-called happy slapping, writers Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin have gone out of their way to inject a sweet tale of gay love and sexual acceptance, courtesy of the arrival of Marc Laurent who as Olivier not only shows Cal a different side of life, but that being gay is something not to be ashamed of. Only it is the homoerotic chemistry between hunky Tom Bott as bad-boy Jonno and Wayne Virgo as Cal that dominates this feature, one so intense that you just know that such unrequited feelings between the two cannot help but end in a dramatic and as it happens, downright inhumane resolution.
Shot with innovative raw cinematography, infused with the rap sounds of the street and laced with a series of twists and turns that even when contrived, arrive as somewhat of a welcome relief, this blistering attack on the genre is as far removed from the standard coming out work, as you can get. For whilst Alice Payne brilliantly gets under your skin as the vile ringleader of the piece, the real stars here are Flaxstone, Martin and Pearce, who between them have delivered one of the most exhilarating British gay indies in years, one that bursts onto the screen with provocative Bristol gay grit. Need more be said?