If a young director making his first feature-length film has an ace like Bob Hoskins up his sleeve, surely he can’t afford to waste it.
In “Twentyfourseven” Englishman Shane Meadows plays all his cards well, from the brilliant Hoskins, to the intense screenplay written with Paul Frazer, to the black and white which surrounds the whole film with the atmosphere of a modern fairy tale.
Bob Hoskins plays the part of Alan Darcy, your classic dreamer who can no longer stand the sight of kids who for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week do nothing but allow themselves get drawn into the temptations of the squalid life of an insignificant suburban town. His persistence makes him decide to re-open the local boxing-club and get the kids involved in it, by force if necessary. The idea is born, grows and works. Inside “Club 101” the reject of the group can allow himself to knock out the bully and the fat boy becomes Darcy’s right-hand man.
Each of them, Darcy included, feels more secure inside “101” because outside there is loneliness, drugs, or the pub, which by now is divided between the supporters of the club and the others. The club has its (only) night of glory when, with the best of intentions, it organises a series of fights between its own members and those of a semi-professional club in the neighbouring town with comical results.
The “101 Warriors” are really making it up as they go along but they have the enthusiasm of the crowd on their side which actually brings about some results; the incurable drug addict shows that he can do some good, the skinny guy pulls some good punches but it’s in the last fight that the tension built up outside the “101” unexpectedly and violently erupts.
As I’ve read that fortunately this film will be released in Italy I’m not going to tell you what happens in the end. The excellent screenplay and delicate but accurate direction reveal all the faces of
Darcy, the real protagonist of the film. Darcy is the catalyst of the hopes, dreams and frustrations of each of his neighbours and each of the audience. Darcy is kind but he can’t get a girl (who is maybe just a bit too young for him) to fall in love with him. Darcy is there for everyone but some people are jealous of this. It’s easy to identify with Darcy because he sees what everyone else sees but the difference is that Darcy and his boys act too late.
It’s easy to believe that the characters of Meadow’s story have a strong sense of community but before Darcy rings the bell they don’t realise it. “Twentyfourseven” shows all the characteristics of urban society in miniature including the contradictions that here spell the end of Alan Darcy’s “101”, and magnifies the failure of a social class, of an idea or a utopia.