Pleasure Island

Review by Dora Densham Bond

Directed by

Mike Doxford

Starring

Gina Bramhill Ian Sharp Rick Warden

Anticipation.

Another week, another Brit gangster yarn.

Enjoyment.

Often looks the business, but hampered by weak characterisations and a hackneyed story.

In Retrospect.

This is a man's world. Sadly.

A squaddie returns home to find life ain’t what it used to be in this unexceptional Brit crime flick.

Mike Doxford’s Pleasure Island epitomises the increasingly prevalent vision of disheveled, desolate British seaside towns while offering bleak insight into the maelstrom corruption and poverty.

This solid thriller sees war veteran Dean (Ian Sharp) return to his hometown, the aptly named Grimsby. He’s greeted with hostility and bitterness by his father, who’s infatuation with pigeons is used to cover up ulterior motives. When he rekindles a relationship with childhood friend Jess (Gina Bramhill), Dean’s desperation to offer her salvation, in time, becomes his fatal hamartia, and the pair’s unfortunate position is merely perpetuated by his intervention. Before the movie has properly started, we know how it will end.

The cinematography is amply bold and satisfyingly captures the derelict demeanour of the landscape, a demeanour that mirrors the morbidity of the lives that walk its streets. The film’s most imaginative visual moment can be found right at the beginning when a child (who we assume is the young ‘hero’) is happily playing on the beach. The camera quietly follows his moving shadow over the undulations of the sand.

But sadly we’ve all seen the ‘ex-soldier returns home to find things aren’t the way he left it’ story done a million times before. A slow build-up eventually gives way to a standard action movie shoot-out finale, as Dean faces off against the final baddie with guns a blazing. It’s all so familiar.

Jess, meanwhile, spends much of the film trying to escape from her pimp. Due to her meagre social/economic/personal situation, she has found herself entirely at his mercy as she works as a stripper. Her plight is used as a catalyst to ignite Dean’s anger. You can’t help but feel instinctively let down by her part in the film, there only to fuel the passions of the male characters. Indeed, all the female characters in the film are ’50s-style throwbacks; not only a stripper, but a housewife and a nanny. It’s lazy stuff.

Published 14 Aug 2015

Anticipation.

Another week, another Brit gangster yarn.

Enjoyment.

Often looks the business, but hampered by weak characterisations and a hackneyed story.

In Retrospect.

This is a man's world. Sadly.

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