A Kind of Hush

UK 1998

Reviewed by Nick Thomas


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Outside Kings Cross station in London, rent boy Simon picks up a punter, who is then beaten and robbed by Simon's mates, Mick, Tony, Wivva, Fish and Stu. They return to their favourite café to count their loot. The gang have in common a history of sexual abuse, and see themselves as avengers, out to get even with their exploiters. After beating up another john in a urinal, they seek out and attack Merriman, Tony's former foster father. Unlike the other members of the gang, Stu works as a trainee for the kind-hearted Chef and his wife Beryl, and is trying to build a relationship with waitress Kathleen. Chef's sudden illness prompts Stu to find his own sister Jen, who was also a victim of their abusive father, and his collaborator Trewin, a wealthy pimp who procures boys. Stu and the gang go to Trewin's house in search of material to blackmail Trewin with. But when Trewin takes Jen's daughter Kirsty hostage to recover the evidence, Stu's concern is for her welfare. When the handover is botched, Fish attempts to climb onto Trewin's moving vehicle and is killed when it crashes. Stu agrees to a reunion with his father, now implicated along with Trewin, but beats him savagely before urinating on him. The friends bury Fish at sea.


The screenplay of A Kind of Hush is based on Richard Johnson's autobiographical novel Getting Even, a title which perhaps better reflects the film's potential pleasures. But indebtedness to a real-life account of the sexually abused taking late and indiscriminate revenge prevents the narrative from engineering the kind of dramatic pay-off that makes the finale Tod Browning's Freaks (1932), for example, so thrilling. Our heroes' brand of vigilante 'justice' is meted out inconsistently - hapless punters are dealt with as viciously as serial abusers. That may be an accurate depiction of victims' anger, but it tends to dissipate sympathy and deflect the narrative revenge arc the film appears to be taking.

Writer-director Stirner coaxes notable performances from a team of virtual unknowns. Making his debut behind the camera after a career as a stage director and as an actor in theatre and film (notably in Overlord), Stirner has used improvisational exercises to create a credible bond between the young performers. Harley Smith as Stu is impressive in his attempts to come to terms with his past and to forge a 'normal' future for himself. There are strong performances also from Paul Williams as the aggressive Mick; Nathan Constance as the young man facing his abusive foster father; and Mike Fibbens (a former Olympic swimmer) as Fish - a wordless physical presence whose final sacrifice leads to a kind of closure for both victims and abusers. Veteran actor Roy Hudd plays a likable father figure to the wayward Stu, and stands as one of the few trustworthy adults in this world otherwise populated by devious abusers.

The Kings Cross depicted here is more prosaic than the Dante-like visions in Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa: here net-curtained suburbs contain as many horrors as notorious inner-city haunts. The difficult flashbacks of abuse resonate not through visual metaphors but through the soundtrack, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's intense neo-medieval meditations adding a sometimes overbearing sense of dread. The film's title, by stark contrast, comes from the syrupy ballad first made famous by Herman's Hermits in 1967. It presumably refers to the conspiratorial hush among abusees. While the National Lottery may not yet have been the saviour of British cinema it promised to be, it has at least supported this brave film, even if it is likely to get only a modest return on its investment.


Roger Randall-Cutler
Brian Stirner
Based on the novel Getting Even by
Richard Johnson
Director of Photography
Jacek Petrycki
David Martin
Production Designer
Mark Stevenson
Arvo Pärt
©A Kind of Hush Limited
Production Companies
A First Film Company production with the participation of British Screen in association with the Arts Council of England
Developed with the support of Tim White Film Productions Ltd
Developed with the assistance of British Screen Finance Limited
Supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of England
Executive Producer
Richard Brindle
Line Producer
Paul Cowan
Development Executives
Sophie Bankes
Rob Cheek
Production Co-ordinator
Liz Watkins
Production Manager
Chris Wheeldon
Location Manager
Christian McWilliams
Post-production Supervisor
Stephen Law
Assistant Directors
Chris Creagh Coen
Barrie McCulloch
Daniel Toland
Script Supervisor
Cathy Doubleday
Ros Hubbard
John Hubbard
Underwater Director of Photography
Michel Gemmell
Camera Operators
Brian Harris
Peter Ditch
Steadicam Operator
Alexander Sahla
Digital Film Effects
Cinesite (Europe) Ltd
Model Maker
Jessie Walker Stewart
Art Director
Peter Robinson
Storyboard Artist
Jim Cornish
Costume Designer
Verity Hawkes
Wardrobe Supervisor
Estelle Butler
Make-up/Hair Design
Sue Parkinson
Make-up Artists
Christine Greenwood
Lizzie Georgiou
Ivanna Primorac
Stephanie O'Rourke
Suzan Broad
Jutta Russell
Caroline Martini
Oral Prosthetics
Chris Lyons
Chris Boxall
Cine Image
Music Performed by
The Tallinn Chamber Orchestra
Music Conductor
Tönu Kaljuste
Music Supervisor
Frazer Kennedy
"Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten" by Arvo Pärt, performed by Stuttgarter Kammer Orchestra, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies; "Untitled for Saxophone and Keyboard" by Arvo Pärt; performed by Jan Garbarek (tenor sax) Arvo Pärt (keyboards); "There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World)" by Les Reed, Geoff Stephens, performed by Radiator; "Who Is Your God", "Generator", "I Am" by Chris Rose, Jack Cooke, Janne Jarvis, performed by Radiator; "Tie a Yellow Ribbon round the Ole Oak Tree" by Irwin Levine, L. Russell Brown; "Congratulations" by Bill Martin, Phil Coulter; "She Moved thro' the Fair" by Colum Padraic, traditional arrangement by Hughes Herbert
Sound Mixer
Jim Greenhorn
Re-recording Mixer
Clive Pendry
Supervising Sound Editor
Nick Adams
Dialogue Editor
Gordon Brown
Effects Editor
Sam Southwick
Jason Swanscott
Dianne Greaves
Ted Swanscott
Paul Wrightson
Jay Coquillon
Stunt Co-ordinators
Jim Dowdall
Tom Delmar
Colin Skeaping
Animal Trainers
Animals Okay
Harley Smith
Marcella Plunkett
Nathan Constance
Ben Roberts
Paul Williams
Peter Saunders
Mike Fibbens
Roy Hudd
Jeanie Drynan
Timothy Barlow
Tony Tang
Kim Phuong
Lynne Verrall
Vernon Nurse
Hayley Danbury
Phil Nice
Tabitha Walton Lane
Mark Northover
Uncle Chris
Paul Hayley
Peter Trewin
Séon Rogers
Bay White
Mrs Trewin
Jack Chissick
Mr Merriman
Gabrielle Hamilton
Johanna Kirby
Rupert Farley
Gwyneth Powell
Mrs P
Kathie Whiteley
Diveen Henry
Peter Allcorn
man at station
Barrie Jaimeson
man in loo
Anthony Etherton
man on train
Andrew Cuthbert
man at fair
Maisie, the dog
Metrodome Distribution Ltd
8,581 feet
95 minutes 21 seconds
Dolby digital
Colour by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011