Starring: Jamie Foreman, Danny John-Jules, Zoë Tapper
You may like this if you liked: Baseline (Brendon O’Loughlin, 2010), Jack Said (Lee Basannavar and Michael Tchoubouroff, 2009), Dead Man Running (Alex De Rakoff, 2009)
Spoiler Alert: Any plot synopsis I write will make this sound much better than it actually is but here goes: The Grind centres on best friends Vince (Freddie Connor) and Bobby (Gordon Alexander). Vince manages a nightclub called The Grind that turns a healthy profit and he appears to be going somewhere. Bobby has just come out of prison and his drug and gambling addiction has lead to him having a huge debt to the scarily named local loan shark called Dave (Foreman). Dave also owns The Grind and is now demanding payment in full from Bobby. Vince is now torn between his loyalty to his best friend and the loyalty to his boss. Though a little clichéd and certainly unoriginal, that could be good if well made couldn’t it? Well it is not!
Since starting my film review blog this year I have upped the quantity of films I watch even more, but unfortunately the consequences of this is that I end up subjecting myself to rubbish like this. I still avoid films I know I will hate (Keith Lemon etc.) but I take a risk on the lesser known ones and that sometimes does not pay off. There is literally nothing redeeming about this film whatsoever and it is quite simply 90 minutes of your life wasted. The plot I have described is actually portrayed within the ‘narrative’ a lot less clearly.
The acting, dialogue and camerawork are all horrifically bad and every so often we get at a sequence that is at least 10 minutes long that just shows people dancing in a nightclub. Maybe this is intended to create some sense of ‘mood’ but is just filler that is beyond boring. Due to the budget this is all filmed using hand held cameras which could have been effective, but whoever is holding the camera perhaps needs a little bit more of a steady hand. Perhaps the low budget meant they could not afford a coat to keep the cameraman warm as he has the serious shakes! When the camera moves it is done with no grace whatsoever leading to the viewer feeling quite dizzy and just feels like they have given the camera to an over enthusiastic 10 year old.
A low budget of course means certain constraints but is no excuse for a film being as bad as this. Good dialogue and acting are the very basics of good storytelling and cost nothing, but here we are given characters that are impossible to care about. Shane Meadows has proved a low budget doesn’t have to stop good story telling with the likes of Twenty Four Seven, A Room for Romeo Brass and Somers Town. Vince and Bobby are in situations that we could potentially sympathise with but instead of solid character development we are shown people dancing in a club. The ending could have been poignant but is just an absolute mess and I just could not care about the characters as well as being so annoyed by just how the rest of the film had been. Perhaps inside the narrative is a poignant and tragic story depicting the struggles of life in London’s urban slums but I cannot describe in words how bad a job has been done of it here. What we have is basically an extended episode of Eastenders with a trance music soundtrack.
Amateurish, boring and forgetting all the fundamental basics of what great film making and storytelling is supposed to be. I implore everyone to avoid seeing this as most student films or indeed episodes of Eastenders are probably better made. It is so bad I could not even laugh AT it, so it must be truly horrendous!