Included in the Official Selection for the Portobello, British Urban, Minghella and Slough Film Festivals, this short film tells the tale of two youths in London coming across a harmonica, who then find themselves attracting unwanted attention from “hoodrats” by hanging around in the typical dodgy backstreets of London.
From first glance this film looks like it could be a shorter version of a gritty British film representing the stereotypical teenage popularity of the city. They all wear hoodies, they all seem to have some form of weapon on them and they all talk as if they’re texting each other. The film holds this image of a gritty London for the majority of the time. With horrible people involved who swear and are disrespectful to each other to the point of being intimidating and mocking, it seems this short film offers nothing more than another chance for observers to be scared of young people in London.
However, there’s an odd vibe running throughout this film. Although you are provided with these grimy images, contrasted with them are the delightful sounds of the harmonica – The most innocent of instruments. Added with this, the two lead characters do not talk. This firstly provides a little more of an intimidating edge, but as the film goes on, and as it plays with expectation, this short film becomes quite enigmatic.
You begin to find yourself asking questions – Maybe this isn’t a typical “hoodrat” film, why aren’t they talking? Why does the camera keep gesturing certain images? Why are they using that image instead of that one? These all seem quite vague questions when you haven’t seen the film, but it will make sense once you watch it, and you will be asking yourself the questions.
There’s a fun play on image and sound. You don’t get what you expect, and I think that’s the best way to describe the film. It takes you on a journey of contrasting images and philosophical talk. Once you get past the initial copycat images of modern British films (a good touchpoint here is Harry Brown) you realise that that’s all they were – an almost mockery of what a film based in London should be like.
It seems I have jumped a few steps forward without explaining myself on how the film becomes this philosophical talk, but I need to. When the film changes it hits you hard and makes you rethink the rest of the images you’ve just seen. One thing is for sure, when the two lead characters start talking, they pack a punch.
You can watch the film here.