Dexter Fletcher debut is a mature and funny comedy
There are many aspects of Wild Bill that could cause a discerning cinemagoer to give it a wide berth – its lack of recognisable stars; its done-to-death London gangster milieu; its debuting writer/director Dexter Fletcher’s connections to the works of Guy Ritchie – but despite these seeming harbingers of dreck, to dismiss this film unseen would be to miss out on one of the highlights of the year so far. It’s not that Fletcher and his co-writer Danny King do anything particularly new with this story of an ex-con freshly released from prison and keen to reconnect with his kids; but they tell it with such unexpected maturity, drawing very funny comedy and resonant emotion from well-crafted characters, while lending the mundane locations an unexpected beauty through George Richmond’s striking cinematography. Having been part of the furniture of British film and TV since his acting debut, aged 10, in Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone, Fletcher has clearly learned more than a thing or two from the sets he’s hung around, and here he puts it into practice with great results.
The film begins with the introduction of 15-year-old Dean (Son of Rambow’s Will Poulter) and his younger brother Jimmy (Sammy Williams), fending for themselves in their crummy East London flat. Back into their lives comes Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles) – the aforementioned ex-con and the boys’ father – and tension immediately hits. This broken relationship, and its potential restoration, is the dramatic heart around which revolves myriad sub-plots and characters – from Bill’s old gang rivals to concerned social workers to various girlfriends and relatives. In truth, the film comes close to collapsing as all these layers build up, but Fletcher pulls the focus back to Bill, Dean and Jimmy for a powerful conclusion.
Out now on general release.