Thursday 10 March 2022

ANGRY YOUNG MEN - Glasgow Film Festival review

When one their gang is found beaten and bloodied, The Bramble Boys discover a new group of heavies called The Campbell Group have moved in on their territory, and are recruiting the youths from the estate so they can gain control of the local milk round. Soon enough, spilt milk turn to spilt blood as the rival gangs embark on a bitter turf war and bodies start to pile up when gang warfare breaks out.

To quote Sean Connery's character in The Untouchables, "they send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue". Well, Angry Young Men has a new take on that, instead delivering justice in a bloody wheelie bin. Written and directed by Paul Morris (who also stars as gang leader, Jimmy), Angry Young Men follows the Bramble Boys of Mauchton as they try to protect their estate from interlopers, The Campbell Group. Although the Campbells are better organised and increasingly bigger in number, Jimmy's gang isn't going to back down without a fight.

Produced on a low budget I wouldn't ever dare to guess, Angry Young Men is a testament to what you can do with minimal money but real filmmaking ingenuity. The camera equipment is probably of the kind you could pick up in the sale at Argos and some of the acting is a bit sketchy at times, but when a film is produced with such an independent spirit, I wouldn't hold those things against it for one second. In fact, it all adds to the appeal, as this is an easy film to want to champion. In this alternate world where the ultimate goal is the control of milk supply and gangs walk around in garish uniforms (the Brambles in berets and camouflage ponchos, the Campbells in bomber jackets and white balaclavas), Morris hasn't allowed his ambition to be restrained by the budget, with drone shots and camera moves that give a real sense of the location and its surroundings, as evidenced in an early chase scene between a guy on crutches and four guys in a black Nissan that's well orchestrated and surprisingly tense. It's also pretty funny throughout, with a dry wit cutting through some of the weirder, more fantastical elements of the plot.

Crucially, despite the odd chuckle at some of the homemade elements (the priest employed for a funeral service has the worst makeshift dog collar I've ever seen), I don't think I was ever not laughing with the film. Fully aware of what its shortcomings are, Morris has clauses written into the script to explain some of the more glaring inconsistencies. Some of the actors' hair inexplicably grows a lot between scenes, but when one of the key characters is told to shave off his hitherto present goatee, it's clearly to cover some out of sequence shooting and a gap in filming. Still, despite the rough edges (or more accurately, because of), even if the ambition outstrips the budgetary restraints, Angry Young Men is so watchable that it's an easy film to cheer on, regardless. It might feel a bit amateur at times, but it also brings to mind the early films of Peter Jackson - like Bad Taste minus the gore. Last time I checked Jackson had done pretty well for himself, and I wouldn't bet against Paul Morris achieving something similar.

I've attended this year's Glasgow Film Festival without actually going to Glasgow, instead watching the films virtually at home. Of all the great films on the line up, this is the one I'm absolutely gutted I wasn't able to experience with a crowd. Needless to say, when and if this gets a general release and makes it into cinemas, I'll be there with a camouflage poncho on. It's fucking brilliant.

The wee bastard offspring of Walter Hill's The Warriors and Peter Mullan's NEDS, Paul Morris's micro-budget feature Angry Young Men is one of the highlights of this year's Glasgow Film Festival.



Angry Young Men was part of this year's Glasgow Film Festival. You can find out more about the festival here.

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