Twentyfourseven

on April 15, 1998 by Kevin Courrier
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   This is an impressive debut feature from a talented young Brit, Shane Meadows, even if the film fails to live up to its ambitions. Set in the Thatcher years, the story centers on the middle-aged Alan Darcy (Bob Hoskins), who is trying to resurrect a dormant boxing club in a poor and crowded British suburb. When he was a young man, this club saved his life; the discipline he learned from it gave him direction. When he looks out at the lost, frustrated and unemployed youth around him, he's determined to give them the same chance he had. What Darcy doesn't see, but the audience does, is that the kids he's trying to save have already had their hopes destroyed.
   Hoskins gives a robust and likable performance, but he's the only actor in the film with a fleshed-out role to play. Although the youths are nicely framed (by cinematographer Ashley Rowe) so that their faces are memorable, there is not enough differentiation made between them. Because of this, the conflicts that erupt in their families don't show how learning the sport of boxing can save them. (Most of the time, it just seems to provide them with another reason to beat somebody up.) It's also not clear enough how Thatcher's policies destroyed the very idea of a compassionate society; only the results are witnessed.
   "Twentyfourseven" might have numerous deficiencies, but it's an honest failure made by a director with some enormous gifts. There's energy and real filmmaking skill that's gone into putting this picture together. But "Twentyfourseven" is one of those realistic movies that has just a little bit too much kitchen sink in it, with an underdeveloped story that pours down the drain.    Starring Bob Hoskins, Danny Nussbaum and James Hooten. Directed by Shane Meadows. Written by Shane Meadows and Paul Fraser. Produced by Imogen West. An October release. Drama. Rated R for language, violence and some drug content. Running time: 96 min.
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