Angry Young Men

Angry Young Men ★★★★

I'm going to go ahead and declare some biases to start off. First, I'm from Hamilton, where this film was shot in its entirety and I and my friends have lived in or near several of the housing schemes used in this film. I also know several of the actors through school and through family. While I don't know Paul Morris personally, I was a fan of his early sketches and have followed the production of Angry Young Men from the start (over three years ago!!). In short, I have a personal connection to this film that I don't have to any other.

This is a film shot on a £5,000 - £5,500 budget. That's less than Edgar Wright's debut A Fistful of Fingers to give you an idea of how low that budget is. So while keeping that in mind, I'll get my criticisms out the way here. There were a few times where the budget constraints, I felt, were obvious. A scene, for example, toward the end of the film switches weather conditions between shots. The use of amateur actors also limited the impact of certain scenes, though did not spoil them. I have to say, though, that these flaws were few and far between and perhaps felt more jarring because of the quality of the rest of the film. In any case, they were far from the worst flaws to be seen in amatuer or short cinema.

The cinematography, especially for a single-camera production, was outstanding. Morris uses the lay-out of the schemes and the geography of the town to its fullest extent. The actors also need to be commended here - one scene in particular, involving one character being chased by an opposing gang through Fairhill comes to mind as particularly well done. Morris' skill with the camera, though, is obvious in even the more mundane scenes. His writing talent is showcased here too - there's 70 cast members (iirc) and they all feel fleshed out and individualised. The patter also had me laughing out loud several times. An original score, comparable to John Carpenter, added a great texture to the film and the costumes were colourful and memorable.

You could probably find references and nods to other films and directors throughout this film, but Morris has really made something original and of his own vision and that needs to be commended. Bringing interest and drama to an overlooked town, something that Shane Meadows has done to great effect, is also something to be celebrated. Morris will go on to make better films than this, for sure, but I don't think he could have asked for a much better debut as a filmmaker. Angry Young Men is something he truly owns and I hope that his career to come is equally uncompromising.

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