As the movie begins, we follow best friends Jamie and Leanne (Letitia Wright and Isabella Laughland) as they loot several stores during the London riots in August of 2011. They’re both street-wise kids who know how to flip stolen merchandise into cash. They both live in a group home managed by social workers, but the place has the feel of an institution where the inmates run the asylum. Into this home comes Kate (Shirley Henderson), a new social worker. Jamie is assigned to her and we quickly learn how little respect Jamie and Leanne have for authority. The two friends only care for each other it’s clear that as long as they’re together, they’ll be in a destructive downward spiral.
All that changes when Leanne misses a meeting with her parole officer and gets sent back to jail. Without Leanne’s interference, Jamie and Kate start to talk and Jamie soon takes an interest in Kate’s choir. Jamie turns out to be a talented singer, and she joins the choir. Singing gives her life a purpose, and Jamie starts turning her life around. But just as things start looking up, Jamie is arrested for her activities during the riots and is sentenced to a six month term in jail. What follows is a back-and-forth struggle for Jamie as she tries to move forward with her life through music, but at the same time tries to be loyal to Leanne who’s always protected her. Leanne’s desperate to keep hold of Jamie and sees Kate as someone who’s trying to separate them. A final confrontation is looming, and it will be rough for Jamie, Leanne, and Kate.
This flick gets off to a strong start but starts to coast about midway through when Jamie joins the choir. At that point it turns into a generic rebellious teenager redemption story and coasts until the surprise twist at the very end of the movie. Both Wright and Laughland give strong performances and they’re very convincing as troubled teens, one looking at a promising future while the other is resigned to a life of crime and prison. The only thing that really bugged me was Jamie’s performance that ends the movie. She plays a guitar and sings at a student concert. It’s a nice piece with a small band and a chorus backing her, but for the entire duration of the song she plays the same chord on the guitar. Her fingers never move on the fretboard. Yeah, I know it’s a tiny point but it annoys me when music scenes look so fake on the big screen. Jamie does have a very nice voice, so that makes up for the guitar shortcoming. Give it a watch and stick with it to the end.
Release Date: 5/12/2017
Cast: Letitia Wright, Isabella Laughland, Ian Hart, Shirley Henderson, and Jack McMullen
Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones
Screenplay by: Nick Moorcroft