Film Review: Shifty

By Lindsey Last edited 117 months ago
Film Review: Shifty

Danny Mays & Riz Ahmed
We've a triple interest in this film. Not only is it based in a grim outer London suburban estate but also stars Riz Ahmed, one of the Southbank Centre's Emerging Artists in Residence and otherwise known as Riz MC who we interviewed last year. Thirdly, the film was funded by Film London Microwave, a scheme supporting feature film making in the capital on a miraculous microbudget of £100k.

Following 24 hours in the life of bright but disaffected, drug dealer, Shifty, the film charts the collapse of his slick and previously successful business interest dealing "crack to Miss Marple" as a desperate customer mugs him for his cash and coke and the more ruthless life forms in the drug dealing hierarchy begin to wonder just who's ripping them off. Unwittingly a party to the disintegration of this lucrative living is Shifty's best mate Chris who bailed out of London shortly after the Leah Betts style death of his girlfriend 4 years ago and now returns to face his past and be reconciled with Shifty, who he abandoned.

This is an edgy and wry look at the drug habits of ordinary people and confirmation, as if you needed it, that drug dealing really is a nasty business. The story nips along with a social conscience; at times Shifty's more like a social worker doing his rounds and in no way is drug taking glamorised. The toll on his family life is severe, purposefully estranged from his traditional Pakistani parents and subsequently thrown out by Dev, his brother, when a hefty stash is discovered at the back of the washing machine drawer.

There's a lot of humour and heart in the film and it's the dynamics of Shifty and Chris's refound friendship that underpin it. They're an appealing pair of lovable rudeboys, intelligent, funny yet a bit bewildered by life. Danny Mays and Riz play the friends beautifully, nailing macho emotional restraint, playing it cool and poking each other's wounds like small boys with sticks but ultimately, it's one for all and all for one, as they work it out and ride off into the sunset together. Based on the personal experiences of Director, Eran Creevy, this could be described as Trainspotting lite for suburban London but that's no bad thing.

In cinemas from this Friday, April 24th. Watch the trailer at Tell us what you make of it.

Last Updated 21 April 2009