This review originally appeared on the Who’s Jack website in March 2012
23 March 2012
Dir: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Liz White, Sammy Williams
“Wild” Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles) is a man who wishes to be wild no more. On his release from prison after eight years, all he wants to do is get his things from his Stratford council-flat and leave his old life of crime behind him by moving to Scotland. Problem is, when he gets home, he discovers his two young sons have been left to fend for themselves, and with social services asking questions, he needs to look after them or they’ll end up in a care home. So, Bill faces a dilemma: be a good father, but risk getting mixed up with the wrong crowd again, or make a run for it.
He doesn’t exactly choose to take the good father option unfettered, but his reintegration into the shattered family unit is at the heart of what is, at times, a very touching parental drama. His youngest son Jimmy (Sammy Williams) has got himself mixed up with the local drug dealers though, who are ex-acquaintances of Bill’s, and it is therefore up to him to try and use some of hid old influence to keep his son out of trouble.
If you watch the trailer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Wild Bill is just a straightforward, British gangsters calling each other ‘slags’, crime-caper in the Layer Cake or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels vein of things. But alas, while shady types who can’t pronounce their H’s, dealing in illegal substances is a part of the film, it is far more rounded and multi-faceted story, which even has time to ponder what kind of impact the new Olympic site has had on Stratford.
It’s an impressive directorial début from Dexter Fletcher. He’s best known as an actor and most people will recognise him as Soap from the aforementioned Lock Stock. It’s a debut behind the camera which is just as impressive as Attack The Block’s Joe Cornish, another man better known for his efforts in front of the camera (or radio mic) before doffing the directors hat.
The young actor Will Poulter puts in a very strong performance as the elder of the two sons, Dean, forced to leave school early and work on a building site in order to make ends meet and put food on the table for his younger sibling. After eight years of managing without a father, and six months of also coping without a mother, Dean has understandably formed a tough shell around himself, with the sole aim of not letting his brother get put in a care home.
Wild Bill is an incredibly British film, but at the complete opposite end of the social spectrum from something like The Kings Speech. It is part Ken Loach social-realism with a dash of Guy Ritchie and a sprinkling of Eastenders. A fun cameo from Andy Serkis, as a behind-the-scenes crime boss, tops off a compelling ninety-or-so minutes that felt incredibly relevant for contemporary Britain.
4 / 5