Film review:

UK 2010

Film still for Film review:

Reviewed by Catherine Wheatley


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

Sunday night, London. A young woman is standing on Westminster Bridge preparing to jump when three girls arrive and order her down.

The previous Friday. Friends Shannon, Cass, Kerrys and Jo say their goodbyes for the weekend. The film recounts the next three days from each woman’s perspective.

With her home life falling apart, Shannon tries to talk to her friends but they fob her off. She is briefly cheered when crush Dillon asks her out, but later finds him kissing Jo at the 24-hour shop where Jo works. Shannon leaves after grabbing a pack of potato chips. Outside, she is attacked by a gang of youths but rescued by the mysterious Kelly, who demands the potato chips. Shannon escapes; at home she finds a bag of diamonds in the pack of potato chips. On Sunday morning, Shannon confronts her mother who, it transpires, forced Shannon to have an abortion. That night, a drunken Shannon climbs Westminster Bridge.

In New York for a music audition, Cass meets up with her online paramour – blond, handsome Brett – but he drugs and robs her. Tracking him down to his flat, she discovers that her online contact is in fact an obsessive geek who paid ‘Brett’ to take naked photographs of her. She attacks both men and in the ensuing chase is rescued by a gang of locals. The next morning she gives a brilliant audition before flying back to London.

Holed up in Cass’ plush flat with her lesbian lover, Kerrys is locked in the panic room by her brother while he has a party. In revenge, she steals his car and accidentally crashes it through the window of the supermarket where Jo works. Finding a gun on the floor, Kerrys grabs it and leaves with Jo.

While covering a supermarket shift for her spoiled sister, Jo becomes embroiled in a hold-up co-ordinated by manager Tee and Dillon. When Shannon walks in, Jo pretends to kiss Dillon to get rid of her. Tee has stashed some stolen diamonds in a packet of potato chips, which Shannon grabs. Kelly arrives at the supermarket for the diamonds. A stand-off ensues, brought to an abrupt end when Kerrys crashes through the window. Kerrys, Jo and Cass find Shannon and stop her from jumping off the bridge.

They return the diamonds and set off for New York for a holiday. Unbeknown to them, Kelly is on the same flight.


Noel Clarke's four-girl British heist caper may be mix-and-match derivative, but Lisa Mullen admires its cheeky, cheerful charm

Writer-director Noel Clarke has described as a British movie – not a British film, note – signalling his intention to make a deliberate step away from the ‘grim’ aesthetic so often associated with the Loaches and Leighs of this world. A rather odd move, one might think, for a writer-director who’s made his name with perhaps two of the grimmest British films of recent years, 2005’s tabloid-baiting Kidulthood and its 2008 sequel Adulthood. Borrowing heavily from Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) and Doug Liman’s Go (1999) for’s multiple narrative and fast-paced, fairground-ride editing (set to the rapid ticking of a countdown timer), from Guy Ritchie for its plotting and, more incongruously, from Sex and the City and the St Trinian’s films for its naughty-but-nice girl-power credo, Clarke and co-director Mark Davis have managed a strange feat of alchemy, throwing these divergent elements into the mix and coming up with something that’s derivative in the extreme yet still feels fresh.

After an opening cliffhanger which sees teenager Shannon, vodka bottle in one hand, fistful of diamonds in the other, about to throw herself off Westminster Bridge, the film-makers scroll back three days to introduce us to our four typically mismatched heroines – grungy graffiti artist Shannon (Ophelia Lovibond), upper-class beauty Cass (Tamsin Egerton), badass nymphomaniac Kerrys (Shanika Warren-Markland) and girl-next-door Jo (Emma Roberts). From here the action splits four ways, as the events of the next three days, revolving primarily around a botched diamond heist, are played out from each girl’s perspective before resolving into a whole in the film’s closing moments.

It’s a hackneyed device but Clarke’s script manages to keep us guessing, at least at the outset. The opening strand, which follows Shannon as she is abandoned by her mother, seemingly betrayed by her friends, chased by a policeman, attacked in a nightclub and again in the street – and then again in the luxury apartment of a mysterious stranger (Bionic Woman Michelle Ryan) who is in hot pursuit of a pack of Pringles, has a genuinely surreal air: it’s as if Lovibond has fallen off the edge of a kitchen-sink drama and into a nihilistic Matrix-world. And although the film becomes more predictable as the other narratives fill in the gaps, it retains the power to surprise, with some unexpected and welcome twists.

Of course, it also offers an opportunity for hot girl-on-girl action, which should keep the lads happy lest the prospect of four female heroines proves a turn-off. None of the leads is spared an obligatory sequence prancing about in matching underwear, though the leggy Egerton falls most foul, spending the duration of her New York-set adventure in little more than a pair of lacy pants and a sweatshirt. It’s to Clarke and Davis’ credit that what might, in any other film, have smacked of misogyny is done with enough barefaced cheek (if you’ll pardon the pun) to inspire a wry smile.

Indeed, it’s perhaps the film-makers’ very openness about their intentions that is’s most winning quality: it practically nudges you with its ‘come on, cheer up’ charm. Yes, they’ve thrown in a couple of American cameos for good measure (including an arbitrary but amusing bit part for Kevin Smith); yes, they’ve piled on the sex and violence, and OK, the coincidences come far too thick and fast for the film to have any kind of plausibility.

But it’s a telling acknowledgement of the plot’s far-fetchedness that a running tickertape on the diegetic news bulletins reporting on the diamond heist tells of Osama Bin Laden’s election as Iraqi president and Chelsea football club’s imminent bankruptcy (one can but dream!). It’s a moment typical of the film’s good-humoured self-awareness, which is perhaps what raises it above the level of so much po-faced American fare, making it a distinctly British movie.

See also

The Women reviewed by Kate Stables (November 2008)

Snatch reviewed by Xan Brooks (October 2000)

Go reviewed by John Wrathall (September 1999)


Directed by
Noel Clarke
Mark Davis
Produced by
Damon Bryant
Dean O’Toole
Noel Clarke
Mark Davis
Written by
Noel Clarke
Director of Photography
Francesco Pezzino
Mark Everson
Production Designer
Murray McKeown
Adam Lewis
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011