I apologize in advance, I have seen a fair deal of films in the past week!
London to Brighton is an independent British film that was released in 2006. I consider myself a real fan of world cinema, but I had not heard of this film until I saw it on the shelf. I passed it up one weekend, and then felt compelled to give it a chance. London to Brighton is the first feature film by Paul Andrew Williams. His first short film, Royalty (2001), is said to inspire this film. It is a fairly short film, at only 85 minutes, but it is an adequate length for a film that deals with child prostitution. It is not an easy film to watch, and although most of the graphic elements are not shown on screen, London to Brighton is compelling, though awkwardly paced at times. The film stars Lorraine Stanley, who is best known to British audience for her role on the soap opera EastEnders, which she has held since 2000. Not to be outdone, the young star of the film, Georgia Groome, is captivating as the young girl thrust into the world of prostitution. Even more amazing, it is her film film role (after a couple television credits), and she was only 14 when the film was made. London to Brighton was moderately successful at a few smaller film festivals and won British Independent Film Award for Best Film Production.
The film begins wildly at 3:07 in the morning. Joanne (Groome) is screaming and crying in a public toilet. Kelly's (Stanley) is badly bruised, and she realizes that she needs money to escape. When Kelly returns with a few crumpled bills the two money leave with just enough money to purchase train tickets. The film then reverts back to before this incident and we discover that Kelly earns a living as a prostitute and Joanne has just run away from home. Kelly's pimp Derek (Johnny Harris) has a client who has a predilection for young girls and asks Kelly if she can find a suitable candidate. Stuart Allen (Sam Spruell) is a wealthy man who can afford the extreme whose son Duncan (Alexander Morton) is prone to violent outbursts. Kelly, knowing that she will benefit from helping Derek, coerces Joanne into agreeing to visit Stuart. It is an obvious no-win situation which leads Joanne and Kelly to a dirty restroom stall, with a compelling climax that reminds me of Tilda Swinton in Julia.
The film proceeds from the opening moments with an uneasy sense of tragedy. Kelly is no longer a young woman and her life has disappeared before her eyes and it is apparent that she is unable to escape. While she is ultimately protective of Joanne, she is self serving. The film is as grim as Leaving Las Vegas, and I admire the director for the film's ending. I think it has been well established that I am not a fan of films with "Hollywood endings." The acting was superb, especially from Lorraine Stanley and Georgia Groome, but I felt that the characters remained too one-dimensional. This may be due to the short length. London to Brighton is not for everyone and its subject may be hard to stomach, but it is a gripping film that holds your attention from beginning to end.
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.