“100 Streets,” a powerful ensemble drama, follows three contrasting and interwoven stories as they play out in one square mile of modern day London. A former rugby player, Max (Idris Elba), struggles to find a life off the field while fighting to save his marriage to former actress Emily (Gemma Arterton).
Kingsley (Franz Drameh of CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow”) is a small time drug dealer desperately seeking a way off the street. While completing his community service for a misdemeanor, Kinsley meets Terence (Ken Stott), a local thespian, who gives him the push he needs out of his dead end life and into a very different, creative world. George (Charlie Creed-Miles), a cab driver, and his wife Kathy (Kierston Wareing) dream of having kids, but a devastating road accident puts their hopes on hold even testing their otherwise strong marriage. Anybody can make a wrong turn, but it’s the journey that allows us to find the right path.
100 Streets is a British drama film directed by Jim O’Hanlon and starring Idris Elba. It made its debut in the United Kingdom on 11 November 2016, before being released in the United States and on video-on-demand on 13 January 2017 by Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Film Review for 100 Streets
Within a square-mile section of London, the trajectories of characters from different social strata crisscross, circle one another and intersect in 100 Streets, an ensemble drama that puts a clumsy, soapy spin on a familiar template. Though there’s clearly a compassionate impulse behind Leon F. Butler’s class-conscious screenplay, it rapidly devolves into implausible melodrama. The intended snapshot of contemporary London instead feels manufactured and generic, never transcending, or digging beneath the prefab surface of, a wan collection of stock situations.
As a vehicle for Idris Elba, who also serves as a producer and music supervisor, the movie is barely adequate. Director Jim O’Hanlon, a TV vet, does what he can to stir the under-seasoned pot, moving among the story’s three central strands with increasing urgency. But this middling drama falls far short of the resonance for which it obviously aims.
As retired rugby star Max, Elba effortlessly captures the swagger of a wealthy celebrity and his unraveling. Max’s philandering has led to a separation from his wife, former actress Emily (Gemma Arterton), and he’s at loose ends without her and their two kids, making a public spectacle of himself with his drinking and drugging. Her tentative romantic involvement with an old friend, photographer Jake (Tom Cullen), grows more problematic for her as it becomes evident that he’s several leaps ahead of her on the emotional commitment scale. But whether or how any of this martial woe is sorted out could hardly feel less consequential.
The most effective element of the film — notwithstanding its up-from-the-gutters, art-saves-lives clichés — is the narrative thread involving small-time hood Kingsley (Franz Drameh) and middle-aged actor Terence (Ken Stott), a Zenful sort who walks the city alone, does tai chi by the Thames, and listens to Nina Simone on his ever-present headphones. Although Drameh is tasked with delivering the screenplay’s meaning-of-life voiceover musings, he’s charismatic and persuasive as a smart kid who can see beyond his mean-streets existence but doesn’t know how to break free of it. Through a chance encounter with Terence, who happens to be a former theater colleague of Emily’s — and so the circle tightens — he finds the encouragement he needs, and unlikely mates find common ground.
The middle-class piece of the triptych revolves around cabbie George (Charlie Creed-Miles) and his wife, Kathy (Kierston Wareing), a hard-working couple who face major setbacks in their plans to adopt a child. One reversal for them, relating to a matter from George’s past, has the smack of unfair class disparity, while the other serves all too clearly as one of the life-changing moments that Kingsley ponders in his street-philosopher smartphone recordings.
How the three stories connect is finally a matter of storytelling mechanics, nothing more. Questions of celebrity, marital discord, poverty, crime, child rearing and art don’t enhance or comment on one another; they simply coexist. Beyond the click of the pieces fitting together, O’Hanlon is unable to draw much from Butler’s screenplay, whose overt nod to Animal Kingdom doesn’t serve the film well, instead providing a reminder of the kind of taut emotional complexity so sorely lacking here.
Directed by: Jim O’Hanlon
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Idris Elba, Tom Cullen, Ashley Thomas, Ken Stott, Franz Drameh, Ryan Gage, Kierston Wareing, Charlie Creed-Miles, Lorraine Stanley, Emily Wyatt
Screenplay by: Leon Butler
Production Design by: Ricky Eyres
Cinematography by: Philipp Blaubach
Film Editing by: Mark Eckersley, Chris Gill
Costume Design by: Molly Emma Rowe
Set Decoration by: Lee Gordon
Music by: Paul Saunderson
Distributed by: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release Date: January 13, 2017