Monday, 7 August 2017
1 Day (4 Stars)
It's difficult for me to understand what the message is that Penny Woolcock, the director of this film, wanted to portray. Maybe I should listen to the commentary track on the DVD. She shows the young people of Birmingham living with violence as a way of life. It would have been easy for her to be critical and show that crime doesn't pay, but she presents the gang lifestyle very neutrally. By the end of the film some gang members have died while others survive and have profited from the gang war. (That's the closest to a spoiler I'll get in this review).
The voice of morality in the film is the Pentecostal preacher Derek Webley, who appears in the film playing himself, the only real person in the film. Even he only partially condemns crime, with the words "I know crime does pay, otherwise so many people wouldn't do it". Nine-year-old Pest is given a gun so that he can become a man. Awful.
The film's hero, Flash, sums up his life with the words, "This is what I do. I sell drugs and bang guns". That's not all he does. He has five babies from three women, and he tells them all he loves them. If I were cynical I'd call it polyamory.
Despite the amorality of "1 Day" I have to say that it's a powerful film. I can't help feeling for the main characters, Flash and Pest. Throughout the film I hoped they would abandon their life of crime, but they didn't.
For me the film is very authentic. It's about life in the city where I lived for 16 years of my life. I recognise the mentality of the young people, even if I never personally knew anyone who carried a gun. It's true that the youngsters of Jamaican origin have absolute respect for their elders, so they hide their guns when they talk to their grandparents.
The authenticity has been maintained by only using actors from Birmingham for the film. Many of them had never appeared in films before. "1 Day" is an ode to the violent subculture of Britain's second largest city.