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British Film Review: HARD TIDE
Directed By Robert Osman & Nathanael Wiseman
Genre: Crime - Drama
This razor sharp, hardened, urban drama, introduces the audience to the world of small time drug dealer, Jake (Nathanael Wiseman – Hackney’s Finest) a product of the care system living in a small coastal town. Live is torturously still and residents live with the knowledge that their lives will never move. Jake is being groomed to look after his father, Gaz’s (Ralph Brown – Withnail and I, Agent Carter, Legends and The Blacklist) drug empire reluctantly; knowing it offers a bleak future with less than positive outcomes. The excellent snooker hall scene exchange is dark, prophetic and well constructed – the father attempting to pass on the torch onto the son but each recognize failings in each other, the system and their world but what else do they have?
With his loyal but dangerous best friend, Alfie (TV’s Dracula and Luther’s Oliver Stark), Jake continues with this life as a routine with no exit; unlike the insensitive and corrupt Alfie, who’s increasing high stake deals and opportunistic business manner put Jake under pressure and under threat. He’s more suited to the business than Jake.
As a turf war stirs, Jake’s existence is shattered when; by performing an act of decency - taking a neglected young child, Jade (talented newcomer, Alexandra Newick); home and out of the line of potential fire, triggers off an unanticipated event with a cataclysmic; ripple effect of consequences. Jake is forced to take Jade on the run with him to shield her for as long as possible from grim realities he has known.
He becomes this unexpected, unprepared yet considerate father-figure and they make a touching new kind of family of survivors – case in point is the scene where Jade needs get ready for bed and needs pyjamas, be read a bedtime story and a teddy bear. Jake’s storytelling skills at bedtime set the best new standard for film and comedy since Peter Falk and Fred Savage in The Princess Bride.
Jake and Jade recognize each other as victims of neglect but share safety in each other’s company and he protects her to survive their world like family. Their tennis like dialogue exchange is laced with expletives but it’s peppery and entertaining.
Alfie seeing this growth in Jake cannot comprehend what he sees. He lacks the moral compass Jake has; so as Jake becomes more responsible for Jade, Alfie becomes more aware of her as a liability and pressures Jake to remember their roles in this world – dealers, not daddies.
Newick’s character is likeably adorable yet plucky and we can understand why she and Jake make friends. The first image we see of her running out of the door in her generic superhero costume is both comedic and ironic as she is the most powerless person in this world, yet she is on high platforms, charging around pretending to be ‘Super Girl’. He’s a product of the system and she’s set to become a new recruit. He feels almost compelled to be this older brother figure – foul language and all.
HARD TIDE Exclusive Clip.
Nathanael Wiseman carries the major responsibility of inhabiting Jake the anti-hero who becomes an unwilling father-figure with depth and unexpected soulfulness beneath the rough exterior.
Alexandra Newick touches all the right nerves and emotions from the audience – you both want to tell her off but simultaneously protect her from the monsters at the door. It’s her clever mix of cheeky, feisty, council estate kid with innocent child who still has a teddy bear and likes bedtime stories, that draws us to her story and provides Jake with a greater capacity for love and the need to protect someone outside of himself. We begin to care for them both with time and the well paced measuring of the story.
Wiseman, who also co-wrote and co-directed the film with Robert Osman, provides us with a rich story of flawed human beings who make tough choices with the hands they’ve been dealt and makes no apologies for it. We encounter relatable characters that every person can connect with at ground level and force us to look at them without judgement but with more grounded perspective and even heart.
Jake forces us to root for him to protect Jade because she has gently forced out his best and most redeeming qualities slowly and naturally to the forefront – much like this film.
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