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Ensemble Pieces: City Rats

November.19.2009

Now, here is a movie that tries to be deep and relevant. It doesn’t necessarily fail, but it doesn’t particularly succeed either. My thought is because the Steve Kelly drama about the lives of random Londoners seems without focus.


The premise is just as scattered as the characters in the movie are: a prostitute, an artist, a couple of suicidal folks, the younger brother of an autistic gay man, an ex-con, and a mother looking for her child. As expected, varied circumstances and motivations draw each character to one another, and some common pasts are revealed towards the end of the movie.

Unlike other ensembles, though, no single theme seems to resonate through all the intertwined storylines. It isn’t about a search for love or identity, about post-college angst, or a study on the nature of sex and violence. Rather, the movie attempts to tackle all those to reveal the unglamorous facet of London – the part that we, as an audience, are unfamiliar with, yet is made intriguing.
Therein lies the beauty of this film. This independent production makes good use of the classically magnificent cityscape to tell the story of its citizens. We may not empathize with its people, but certainly, we are made to care about what happens with these characters, which may or may not be a happy ending.
The film is not heavy on sex and violence to make it ‘dark’, but it does contain portions of both not to make it light, either.
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