Thursday, January 22, 2015

High Heels and Low Lifes (2001)

A light hearted but entertaining brit crime caper 

2001 if I remember right was not an exciting year for small scale Brit movies and just when you thought they had reached rock bottom (well almost), along came a movie that raised the spirits. High Heels and Low Lifes was one such flick and a women-centric action comedy to boot.

It is rare for a screenplay to feel fresh, as if the writer hadn't shaped the plot in advance. It gives the film that what's-going-to-happen-next rush and this movie excels in it. This story of two girls, who become involved in a bank robbery by mistake, has many layers of surprise. Writer Kim Fuller's ability to avoid the obvious and director Mel Smith's reluctance to descend into farce make this one of the funniest British crime comedies since Nuns On The Run. 

Shannon (Minnie Driver) is an NHS nurse, Frances (Mary McCormack) a struggling American actress. They are best friends. After a boozy night, celebrating Shannon's birthday, they overhear a conversation between two crooks, who are in the process of breaking into the vaults of a bank in their street. They report it to the police, who take no notice, being too busy with Saturday night mayhem at the station. They decide to take matters into their own hands and demand money from the gang in exchange for their silence. "There must be a blackmailing website," Shannon says, desperately. They have no idea what to do and so make it up as they go along. They have a phone number and so start by ringing it. What they don't know, but will soon find out, is that certain members of the gang consider assassination the first line of defence. 

Fuller's script is inspired and the direction by Smith (who also gave us the George Lucas produced Radioland Murders and Rowan Atkinson's Bean) is almost faultless and on dot. Driver and McCormack work beautifully together. In fact, Driver hasn't been this good - or looked this good - since Grosse Point Blank. The baddies have the bumbling boy (Danny Dyer), the ruthless boss (Kevin McNally, playing a similar role to Ben Kingsley's in Sexy Beast, but without the loony toons) and the big nasty (Michael Gambon, as the man they call The Poof, in murderous form). In a nutshell this is a fun movie to watch on a lazy night. A.W.Murray


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