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British Film Review: Wild Bill
When “Wild Bill” (Charlie Creed) struts out of prison in a purple shell-suit circa 1970 and knocks on a council flat overlooking the London 2012 Olympics site, 15 year-old Dean (Will Poulter) and little brother Jimmy (Sammy Williams) keep silent. Wild Bill is Dean and Jimmy's dad who has been missing for the past 8 years, and eventually both parties mutually agree to remain separate; Bill going up north for work and Dean to keep working on the Olympic construction site and raising Jimmy as best he can. Their mother is long gone too, and when Bill accidentally drops this to social services, he has to play Dad to avoid the kids being put into care. As Bill suddenly has a reason for living and an opportunity for a normal life emerges, he refrains from slipping into old habits. But like father like son, Jimmy starts to be involved with drugs, and more prominently with dealer “T” as Bill has to lock horns with old friends and knuckle fight for his son's liberty.
The set-up is brilliant, and the execution is even better for debut director Dexter Fletcher. The film is the avoidance being stretched to the extreme, hovering around the realism. The drug dealers are East End small time not mafia leaders, the sentimentality is British not Hollywood-ised happy ever afters, and the romances aren't eternal love stories. The script, written by Fletcher and Danny King, creates memorable scenes and more prominently, some of the best dialogue in British film. If you miss this at the cinema, read a copy of the script. Or better, do both.
One could write a phenomenal account of the exemplary acting in this film, and not a single word on a bad performance. Charlie Creed-Miles is brilliant, Will Poulter captures the role perfectly, little Sammy Williams plays the cheeky chap as if its his tenth feature, and Leo Gregory portrays small time villain “T” brilliantly. The elder actors (and a director) nurture the young talent in this film, the best example is Charlotte Spence who only has a small role playing a happy teenage mum, but is an emerging future talent.
All in all, Wild Bill has comedy in all the right places, as well as great drama, and is brilliant light hearted entertainment.
QUOTES FROM THE RED CARPET PREMIERE:
As Dexter Fletcher's debut feature, Britflick's found out what he was really like behind the camera. It seemed to show that Fletcher's acting career has helped him into the directors chair with ease, Liz White said “I'd do it hands down again and again and again. He's brilliant I think he's talented, he's also so warm and inspiring to be around” and Will Poulter continued the compliments “amazing, such a natural...40 years experience really did pay off for him well.” Charlie Creed-Miles stated “the film set was like a big family, as corny as it sounds, it really was like that” which was a deliberate attempt of Dexter Fletcher to work with his friends. He seems to believe that creating off-screen relationships help massively towards what comes across on screen: “It's important on a film set that there is a good healthy atmosphere that is conducive and people feeling safe so they can do their best work and make mistakes, and get things right and as much as they can fall they can fly. And that's very much what I wanted to nurture on set.”
Fletcher continued...“Working with any actor is a great experience because it's always different, its like throwing a clay pot, everyone may look the same, but its always different in every way, the way that you make and the way that you get there. Not to say that I made the actors, but we shaped the performances together and each one of them has a different working process, and each one of them brings something magical and different to the characters that they play.”
Will Poulter's character was an adult inside a teenage body, hence I found out how Will coped and dealt with his character. “It's sort of a story about a boy whose a man and a man whose a boy. If you're playing a boy whose a man you've got nothing to relate to in many senses. But its not so much as a stark parallel, but I guess as a child actor, and this is something that inspired Dexter's story, is that you're trying to grow up in quite a tough world. Nad trying to make transition from a child to a man, and I could sort of relate to that in a way, as an actor I'm trying to establish myself as an adult, and its strange that my first adult role should be Wild Bill where I'm playing a kid and making that exact transition.”
Charlie Creed-Miles rocked up looking like a modern version of Artful Dodger, with top hat and ankle swingers, offering up his highlight of the film. “Everytime I got the script and read the last scene that bought a tear to my eye”, whilst Leo Gregory particularly enjoyed scenes in his drug den flat: “There's a scene in the flat, and Dexter just said to me let's just improve a bit here. I love improvisation, so I got to improve this little scene so that on a personal note is my favourite.” Gregory also hinted that Wild Bill won't be a one off for this group of film makers and that there is talk of another film, hopefully this family will create a sibling for Wild Bill in the not so distant future.
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