VOD film review: Shifty
Lack of Cliches8
Ivan Radford | On 15, Jul 2014
Director: Eran Creevy
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Daniel Mays, Jason Flemyng
Watch Shifty online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
First came Kidulthood. Then Kidulthood put on some chest hair for Adulthood. In 2008, though, the British urban movie grew up.
Shifty, the debut feature from director Eran Creevy, is a mature and gripping film. We see Shifty (Ahmed) welcome back his old mate Chris (Mays) from Manchester, who’s on a flying visit for 24 hours. So he takes Chris on his rounds. Drug rounds, that is. He’s no doctor.
Encountering the desperate locals, Chris is uncomfortable with Shifty’s style of living – after all, he left the area four years ago and now has a job. And a mortgage. Shifty, meanwhile, is still stuck in the old ways, popping pills to pensioners and construction workers with failed families.
As the two recall old times, their connection is undercut by the tension between these two lives. Riz Ahmed, who has gone on to impress repeatedly in films such as Four Lions, is superb as the lead, while Daniel Mays quietly proves why he’s worked with Mike Leigh multiple times. Together, the couple are utterly convincing as estranged acquaintances, bringing an engaging warmth to this character-driven drama.
The important thing is that they are allowed to shine: Eran Creevy keeps the conventions to a minimum, ducking the usual bouts of macho violence and street-smart swearing. Even dodgy geezer Glen (Jason Flemyng) avoids stereotype as events build up to the inevitable conclusion – a genre tradition, which, wonderfully, doesn’t take away from the realistic edge of this understated gem.
Simple, subtle and shot on the cheap, Shifty is everything an indie Brit flick should be.