VOD film review: Looted
Matthew Turner | On 08, Nov 2020
Director: Rene van Pannevis
Cast: Charley Palmer Rothwell, Thomas Turgoose, Tom Fisher, Morgane Polanski, Anders Hayward
Watch Looted online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW / Curzon Home Cinema / BFI Player / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store / CHILI
Shot in Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees, Looted is the directorial debut of London-based Dutch director/co-writer Rene van Pannevis. It’s a beautifully shot blend of gritty crime story and father-son drama, drawn from Pannevis’ own life experiences.
Dunkirk’s Charley Palmer Rothwell plays Rob, a young man in a depression-ravaged (but unnamed) northern coastal town, who spends his free time nicking cars for cash with his mate Leo (This Is England’s Thomas Turgoose, now 28) and Leo’s Polish girlfriend Kasia (Morgane Polanski, daughter of Roman Polanski and Emmanuelle Seigneur). When not out hot-wiring motors, Rob has his hands full at home as the soul carer for his father Oswald (Tom Fisher), a former merchant seaman who’s now bedridden with asbestos-related lung disease.
Things improve when Kasia strikes up an unlikely friendship with Oswald, which helps relieve some of the pressure Rob’s under and also brings him closer together to both Kasia and his father. However, when he reluctantly agrees to steal a car for Leo’s shady boss Amir (Daniel John-Williams), he lands himself in a dangerous situation that could put everyone at risk.
Rothwell is terrific as Rob, delivering a performance that could well prove something of an eye-opener to casting directors. His more emotional scenes towards the end of the film are extremely moving, as his desperation mounts, and he sparks engaging chemistry with all three of his co-stars.
Polanski is equally good as Kasia, playing a character who seemingly digs her way deeper into your heart with each scene. Her relationship with Fisher’s Oswald is utterly charming, especially when set against the more downbeat aspects of the rest of the plot. Similarly, Turgoose is excellent as Leo, mixing his usual, naturalistic humour with a hint of menace (you suddenly realise he has a violent temper) to strong effect.
It’s fair to say that some elements of Looted are stronger than others. The father-son drama is powerfully emotional, thanks to a combination of Fisher’s touching, often difficult to watch performance and a sensitive script that’s clearly close to Pannevis’ own experience. The way the film explores the built-up resentment Rob feels for his father (both because of his illness and the way he treated him in the past) is especially well handled.
However, the crime story is less successful, perhaps because it’s really an excuse for the stakes to be raised in the father-son drama at a crucial stage in the film. Either way, it’s hard not to feel frustrated at the way it plays out, with one seemingly key character disappearing from the story altogether.
On the plus side, Pannevis has a strong sense of place, creating a convincing portrait of the sort of run-down northern town where everyone almost certainly voted for Brexit and you can feel the weight of the depressed economy, with no jobs and no prospects for the main characters other than a life of crime. All this is strikingly counter-balanced with Aadel Nodeh-Farahani’s sunny and stunningly beautiful cinematography, which is almost – almost – enough to make you want to move to Hartlepool.
Looted is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of an £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription.