Wednesday 14 October 2015

North v South - Review

Certificate 18


Written and directed by Steven Nesbit

Freema Agyeman

North v South from Steven Nesbit is a British gangster movie that combines a sharp and witty script with some beautifully conceived violence, all performed by a cast that is to die for.

As John Claridge and Vic Clarke, crime bosses of England’s rival North and South regions meet to hammer out a partnership, Gary a psychopathic lieutenant from the South, kills the wrong man (who’s dressed up as a clown, don’t ask) and from then on it’s all, brutally, downhill. 

Both sides have traitors in the camp and for the most part Nesbit keeps the tale-telling tight. The story wobbles with a slightly implausible Romeo and Juliet theme  that centres around a smouldering Charlotte Hope, but overall the tale combines wit and grit in equal part. 

Much of the pleasure of North v South comes from its awesome line-up. Steven Berkoff’s Clarke proves once again that no-one does a bigger, better or balder Cockney bastard than this roughest of East End diamonds. That Keith Allen is his henchman only adds weight to the film’s sassy dialog, whilst Brad Moore as the treacherous Gary sets himself up for one of the most spectacular deaths in recent British cinema.

The Northerners are led by another screen giant, the weathered and wily Bernard Hill. Mixing menace with charm, Hill’s firm includes a shrewd Oliver Cotton as the brains behind the muscle, along with an ingenious casting choice that sees Freema Agyeman leap from some sensational TV performances to date, to play Penny, a sassy, educated and  multi lingual thug, as violent as she is stylish.

There is a sensational cameo from Dom Monot as transvestite assassin Gustave, whilst a novel touch sees an impressive performance from young Sydney Wade as Sam. Witnessing her clown-dad’s murder early on, her subsequent childish fumbling as she learns her way around a hi-velocity rifle gives rise to an on-screen killing that is as hilarious as it is brutal and with just a hint of Tarantino too. 

Beautifully photographed by Kyle Heslop, Neil Athale’s music also adds a dimension.

North v South is brutal, bloody and brilliant. One of the year’s classier Brit-flicks. 

Steven Berkoff and Charlotte Hope

In cinemas nationwide

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