London Town Review - Charming Coming of Age Film

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London Town, Dutch Tilt Film, Killer Films and Culmination Productions, presents a delightful coming of age story just as London is entering into the Margaret Thatcher Conservative Revolution and punk rock inspired by The Clash is rising.

Directed by Derrick Borte, London Town stars, Daniel Huttlestone, Dougray Scott, Natascha McElhone, Anya McKenna-Bruce, Kerry Howard and Jonathan Rhys Meyers portrays Clash frontman Joe Strummer. London Town was written by Matt Brown based on an untitled Joe Strummer Project written by Sonya Gildea and Kirsten Sheridan.

London Town opens in a suburb of London, with Shay Baker, played by Daniel Huttlestone, and his little sister Alice, played by Anya McKenna-Bruce, receiving a letter from his Mum, played by Natscha McElhone, who left the family to pursue her dreams of singing.

Shay is a latchkey kid, a good son, he picks up his sister from the sitter, makes sure dinner is made, homework done, house straightened up and dinner ready when his Dad, played by Dougray Scott, come home from his two jobs. His local piano shop, once a solid income is slowly draining them dry and his second job, a London cabbie keeps him away from home most of the time.

After he finds out Shay received a letter from his Mum, the hurt is still very fresh, and he rules the house and tells young Shay what is what and what will be. In his case, the facts are he is needed to step into the role his Mum vacated and also be the second pair of hands at the store. Today, Shay has to go into London on an errand.

As he is sitting on the train watching the countryside, a punker, pre-Madonna, teen, in tartan skirt, ripped stockings, wild hair, with layers of jewelry, and a CD player listening to something that kept her interest. Soon, our young Shay asked her what was on the Disc player, she put the headphones on him and life would never be the same. He finds our Penelope, played by Kerry Howard, is heading to get The Clash tickets and so, father’s errand be damned, he was off with the girl.

Popping out of the Tube he is in the midst of a revolution as Margaret Thatcher Conservative Revolution and the rise of the punk rock band The Clash is coming together to form a perfect storm. When the fans of The Clash, or even punk rock would show up, the Skinheads would also appear which brought the Labor Unions, which caused melee in the streets, which brought the police.

The two made their way through he open air music shops and finally secured the last two tickets to see The Clash in an upcoming concert in a week.

Back home, having finished his father’s errand in London with minutes to spare, he was totally won over and of course, the fact that Penelope was also into The Clash, he became Punk.

Nick, Shay’s Dad, secured a piano sale and they agreed to deliver the instrument, with two men pulling and two men, Nick and Shay, pushing up the stairs the cords break and the piano smashes Nick against the wall.

Soon the two, Shay and Alice, are sitting in the emergency room. Nick will get better; it will take time. In the meantime, all Shay could think of was he had tickets to see Penelope and The Clash this evening.

After putting Alice to bed, Shay becomes the kid who wants something so very badly and against better judgement he leaves his sister to head off to London.

His Dad’s convalescence drags on and soon after explaining to Penelope what has happened the two devise a plan to keep the authorities form getting involved. The bills begin to pile up and no money coming in, Shay becomes the champion and works out one, focuses on another until Alice becomes sick.

He finally tracks down his mom, Sandrine, who left Nick when life, or what he considered happiness and obviously what she considered happiness were so extremely different that to stay was a sure death. She is an addict and life through the 1980’s London kaleidoscope of psychedelic persuasion, sex, drugs, rock and roll and the freedom to live however one wanted was too much of an enticement to hold her to the life that she imprisoned her.

Throughout this Jonathan Rhys Meyers, playing the front man for The Clash, has been playing gigs, at Penelope and Shay’s date, in a free concert.

I really enjoyed London Town. The world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival was sold out. Minutes before the film was to begin it was announced that IFC had purchased the U.S. distribution rights to London Town.

The film is timely as London is currently facing a rebirth, the memories of the time when and told so eloquently by Derrick Borte, will be refreshing to a new generation.

The cast is brilliant. The performances excellent. The three of the leads, Daniel Huttlestone, Anya McKenna-Bruce and Kerry Howard, did such a good job they handled material effortlessly.

I must say before this film I had never listened to The Clash. For whatever reason, too punk, not me, or my kind of music and now I can’t say I’m a diehard punker, but the music isn’t bad.  

London Town has not been given a U.S. release date as of yet. When it rolls around to a cinema near you it is well worth the trip to the theater.

London Town is a sparkling gem! Solid performances, good music, and for us on this side of the pond, a trip back into British history putting us smack in the middle of the 1980’s London Town music scene.

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