London To Brighton DVD Review

While movies about women who seem to strangely lack mating instincts are crowding the screens lately – the most recent female emotion-immune venture being Paper Heart – films about unlikely surrogate maternal figures may be on the upswing. Following on the heels of Tilda Swinton’s kid-sheltering alcoholic degenerate in Erick Zonca’s Julia, is London To Brighton’s street hooker accessory to pedophilia, turned preteen protectress with a heart of gold.

Written and directed by UK filmmaker Paul Andrew Williams, London To Brighton is a gritty, hellish inner city underworld excursion morphing into incidental commuter crime thriller. Lorraine Stanley is Kelly, a brash, hard bitten hooker who’s up for anything, as long as the price is right. But when her loathesome pimp Derek (Johnny Harris) sends her out on a mission to find a young girl somewhere to satisfy the sexual perversions of a well-heeled customer, Kelly does so with distaste for her assignment.

After luring confused 12 year old runaway Joanne (Georgia Groome) with food and cigarettes, Kelly accompanies her to the swanky apartment of the aged pedophile. But in a tense, serious second thoughts moment, she rescues the child from rape by knifepoint, leading to the stabbing death of the depraved john. And she then flees with the girl to a friend’s home in seaside Brighton. Meanwhile, Stuart (Sam Spruell), the son of the dead man and a terrifying upscale gangster in his own right, sends Derek to hunt down the two fugitives, but not before slicing up his leg a bit for good measure and more determined motivation.

Despite several personally redemptive plot points that take a far fetched turn, London To Brighton is excruciating raw drama that is a cut above, so to speak, typical gangster fare. Class and gender tensions and conflicts abound, and sensitively crafted social realism combined with complex character depth enriches the narrative, refreshingly without need of a single special effect.

E1 Entertainment

Rated R

3 stars

DVD Features: Alternate Ending; Deleted Scenes; Featurette: Audio Commentary With Director Paul Andrew Williams; Behind The Scenes Footage.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.