City of Tiny Lights

"Good"

City of Tiny Lights Review


After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex noir mystery set in multiracial London. It's a stylishly made film, anchored by another superbly involving performance by Riz Ahmed. But its low budget shows in the way it strains to obscure secrets in blurry flashbacks, using intriguing characters to create a lot of atmosphere while neglecting to properly tell the story.

It's set in London's northwest inner-suburbs, where Tommy (Ahmed) grew up. He lives with his feisty but ill father (Roshan Seth) and works as a private detective. His latest client is the high-class hooker Melody (Cush Jumbo), who is concerned because one of her colleagues has gone missing. As he looks for her, Tommy discovers the dead body of a prominent businessman who has a link to his childhood friend Haafiz (James Floyd), now a high-flying property developer. And things are getting increasingly messy, with American spies prowling around and a local Muslim brotherhood entangled in the case. Tommy hires a sparky neighbour (Damson Idris) to help him, and then he runs into his childhood sweetheart Shelley (Billie Piper), who brings up emotions he thought he'd left behind.

All of this is intercut with blurred flashbacks of Tommy, Haafiz and Shelley when they were 17 years old. This stirs in some intriguing emotions, even if the scenes feel like a distraction since they take so long to reveal their secrets and never quite connect with the central mystery. Travis keeps the tone warm and dense, with dark colours, emotive faces and Tommy's probing voiceover, all of which creates a vivid sense of atmosphere. On the other hand, the plot merely gets more knotted as it goes along, bringing in more people and themes. So even if the story never quite ties up all of its lose ends, at least it's a fascinating portrayal of the ethnic mix in most London neighbourhoods.

It's also full of solid performances that add life and energy to each scene. Ahmed is excellent, a charismatic actor who carries us along even as Tommy begins to lose the will to pursue the case any further. His scenes with Piper have a strong emotional energy to them. And Floyd is a striking presence circling around them. But all of the characters are rather mumbly and enigmatic. This effectively echoes the film noir genre, even as it leaves the movie feeling somewhat superficial. There's clearly something important going on in here, but it's all so murky that it's not easy to see.

Watch the trailer for City Of Tiny Lights:



City of Tiny Lights

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th April 2017

Production compaines: BBC Films, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, UK Film Council, NDF International, Sixteen Films, Fel-UK

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Pete Travis

Producer: Rebecca O'Brien, Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto

Starring: as Tommy Akhtar, as Shelley, as Lovely, Cush Jumbo as Melody, as Farzad Akhtar, Hannah Rae as Emma

Also starring:

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