Accomplished TV director Jim O’Hanlon marks his first deviation into the world of cinema with 100 Streets, working from a screenplay by Leon Writer. One of the hardest aspects to crafting an ensemble piece of this nature, is the balancing of each respective story, ensuring the characters have the time and space to develop within the narrative. The pair have undoubtedly succeeded on that front, as every character is well-rounded and full-bodied. The problem here, however, is that it’s hard to actually care about any of them.
Though dealing with a myriad of characters, there are five we focus on primarily, featuring Idris Elba as the former England international rugby star, and his wife Emily (Gemma Arterton), both having cheated on one another, with an impending divorce surely on the cards. This forthcoming new lease of life pushes the latter into returning to her true love: acting – which is where we meet her mentor Terence (Ken Stott) who has adapted such skills to help become something of an inspiration, to offer guidance to Kingsley (Franz Drameh), on the wrong path and caught up in a dangerous, murky world he struggles to turn his back on. The next, and most self-contained of the parallel narratives, belongs to George (Charlie Creed-Miles), a cabbie who finds his life turned upside down when involved in a car accident.
In spite of the lack of emotional investment you may find you have with this production, it is refreshing to see a film offer such a diverse reflection of London life. If you take Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood trilogy, we tend to only see one way of life. Then you have Richard Curtis’s Notting Hill (set on the very same streets), which again only truly depicts another (and one that, in truth, has never really existed). But 100 Streets has a variety of people, from different races, cultures, and classes, all living amongst one another, and for the most part, in harmonious fashion – which is a much fairer representation of London living. However, and while seamlessly edited together, the way each narrative marries up is contrived in its execution, and though the pacing is spot-on, it grows increasingly more absurd as we progress towards the final stages. It’s a film, so naturally reality is heightened, but this amount of drama happening in the lives of these few people at the same time is not very real. Of course, people go through stuff like this every day, but independently of one another. Each of these characters are connected in some way, and no matter how tenuous such connections may be, it’s because of this that the authenticity comes into question.
For a film that is so intent on being authentic and genuine, 100 Streets shoots itself in the foot
There’s also a frustrating inclination to give each respective character their own big finale, where closure is not always the best way. In reality we don’t necessarily have these moments, and for a film that is so intent on being authentic and genuine, 100 Streets shoots itself in the foot, as a far more fitting conclusion would be to leave things a little more ambiguous and open-ended, as life so often is.