In crime drama Wild Bill, Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles) is out on license from prison. On his release, he finds his two sons (played by Will Poulter and Sammy Williams) have been abandoned by their mother and are fending for themselves in a South East London flat. Bill tries to go straight and protect them from being taken into care but, complicating matters, Bill’s youngest son, Jimmy (Sammy Williams), has been recruited by a local dealer to peddle drugs on the estate.
The despair found in Wild Bill, is matched with hope in equal measure. Bill is a man who wants to change his life and who quickly moves beyond playing scratch cards towards making a real change. His flat’s dirty toilet, pointed out by a social worker at the beginning of the film, cleverly becomes a recurring marker in his transition from neglectful to diligent father.
Creed-Miles gives a remarkable performance as Bill, a likeable character, easy to sympathise with despite his faults, yet still capable of the tough resilience required on his estate. Apart from the clear villains of the story, all of Wild Bill’s characters have an appealing side to their nature. Roxy (Liz White), a prostitute and casual drug user, is not stereotyped but is treated sympathetically, as affectionate and friendly. When asked by Bill, ‘Are you on the game then?’, she warmly replies, ‘Blimey, you know all’t lines don’t cha’.
Billed as a Western style British film, Wild Bill doesn’t take this theme to extremes but instead uses it subtly (a harmonica playing in the background for instance) adding an original edge. Neither is the final showdown predictable or tacky, instead Bill’s nerves and anxiety are truthful and sincere. Much comedy also finds a home in Wild Bill, tempering the harsh realities of its characters lives.
But a review of Wild Bill, Dexter Fletcher’s directorial debut, cannot end without mention of its many beautifully directed scenes. My personal favourite follows a paper aeroplane sweeping across the sky above the estate as Bill bonds with his youngest son, Jimmy. The visuals and music here are stunning and make for an incredibly moving piece of film. This is also true of the closing scene, which I won’t spoil for you now, but stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
Wild Bill should not be missed. Gripping, honest and touching, it’s the most moving film I’ve seen this year. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears.
VERDICT: ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
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