Paul gets out of prison to discover his brother Mike is still involved with crime. Paul offers Mike a way out, but at what cost?

Genre: Drama

Length: 24:45

Free To View

3 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Tom Jolliffe, Alex Lawton

Director/s : Alex Lawton, 

Writer/s : Tom Jolliffe, 

Actor/s : Shone Romulus, 


Of frying pans and fires

Paul has done hard time in prison. Now out, he learns that brother Mike is dealing, and in debt to the local ganglord. How can he set Mike onto a straight path, to keep his promise to their father, to make his sacrifice worthwhile?

Archetypal crime/Mafiosi dramas that follow The Godfather, The Sopranos, or The Krays, allow their family themes to emerge behind the criminal plotting. This film understates the crime drama, leaving it as the context for exploring issues of family loyalty and debt. This is played out between Paul and his brother, but also in Mike’s extended family of the criminal gang. It’s made at the pace of domestic drama, so we are not allowed to get swept along by the criminal plot.

It’s a more difficult trick to pull, tonally. There is a great scene in which Paul is humbled in his new job as a cleaner. “Can you see to the toilets?”. Paul swallows his pride, because it’s his choice to start again even if it has to be from the U-bend up. The film could have benefitted from more moments like this, making better use of the mother and sister, and enriching the domestic scenes (there’s no art/design credit, and it shows).

Shone Romulus got a Best Actor nomination at the British Urban Film Festival, and it’s obvious why. He dominates the camera as the brooding Paul, containing the pain and frustration of his time inside, determinedly doing the right thing.

This is not a crime story, it’s about family, and what deepens its relevance is that Paul is black, and Mike, their mother and sister, are white – Paul was adopted. The telling lesson is that family is not about blood, but about ties of history, loyalty and care.