Twenty Four Seven (Shane Meadows, 1997)

“You have to go to court now, or they’ll come here and they won’t you to court, they’ll take you straight to jail.”

Introduction

Having garnered positive praise from the English press – a five-star review in Empire – Twenty Four Seven managed to pick up a bunch of awards. This small-scale, rugged Nottingham-based film was the real starting point for Shane Meadows. Though Shane Meadows has directed Small Time one year prior, Twenty Four Seven was what placed him in the public spectrum and got him the clout to then move onto A Room For Romeo Brass two years later. He cast Bob Hoskins as the lead actor alongside well-known Brit-Actor Frank Harper – whilst the majority of the young lads were up-and-coming actors – who’d have thought that after Twenty Four Seven, the actors would establish themselves in British television – such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street, The Lakes and little James Cordon became exceptionally successful with Gavin and Stacey … but less successful with Lesbian Vampire Killers.

A Simple Story with a Complex Community

The story shows Darcy (Bob Hoskins) as a community man trying to get the tear-away youths to actually take part in something – so he sets up a boxing club. So far, so good. It is Shane Meadows writing -alongside regular collaborator Paul Fraser. His writing explores more than the rise of this boxing club –
tackling the difficulties these disillusioned young-adults have towards life: Fagash with his criminal drug addiction, Tim with his abusive Father – the vast majority of the youths who simply cannot control their anger. The tragedy is set-up in the first scene – a Tim, older and wiser, finds Darcy sleeping rough and clearly exceptionally ill. We know that the fantastic opportunities and hope that Darcy has set-up will eventually ruin him – but we question how this will happen… and when it will happen.

Nottinghams Raging Bulls

Shot in black and white – potentially for budgetary reasons – there seems to be a passing resemblance to Scorseses’ Raging Bull. No Robert De Niro but the ‘rise and fall’ of someone in a very difficult situation – someone who has boxing in the centre of his life. Shane Meadows, as a child, was part of a boxing club (think of the little fellas in Billy Elliot and the boxing club they were a part of…) and this film is inspired by the boxing club he attended as a child.

The commentary it has on the disillusioned young men of North England is interesting – the fact that the nature of boxing requires self-mangement and control over your emotions stretches further than the boxing ring. The frustrations and anger towards the shit card you have been dealt – if you have drug addictions or have abusive parents … or even if you are struggling to maintain the tough-physique your friendship group expects, you need to put those emotions to one side and focus on the goal. Do you want to stay where you are? No? So you need to claw your way out – controlled and measured steps, ‘floating like a butterfly’ and – when the opportunity arises, you take you, bang, with both hands.

This is not as strong as Dead Mans Shoes, A Room for Romeo Brass and This is England, but it sure sets the scene – you could replace the tough kids here with the cheeky fellas in This is England. Small scale, yes, but with brassy ambitions, hell yes.

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3 comments

  1. Remember seeing this back in the day. I thought it was kind of like the British equivalent to Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, etc. in that it really showed what indie filmmakers could achieve. Great film.

    I also remember the lad off Emmerdale being in it but not James Cordon, will have to give it another watch – well overdue!

  2. Great stuff – now you are looking at some really decent films for a change :o)

    I completely agree with your sentiments on this one – a nice little film, but more of a starting point than a finished product. Can't believe that Empire gave it 5 stars – seriously isn't a 5 star film and I like it. The main problem is it just peters out at the end and the final stand off with Bob Hoskins and the other guy fighting is a bit far fetched.

    Thinking of that perhaps a criticism of Meadows films would be his endings – tending to try and veer towards a more organic conclusion where characters lives just go on different paths. Where as maybe a slightly twistier end would leave the audience a bit more shaken up and thinking harder about the messages.

    My own experiences with teaching 'This is England' for example tell me that some younger folks (the target audience for the message I would say) struggled to grasp that the ideology was very anti-racist as it wasn't fully rounded up at the end and discussed or made clear.
    Now I know there is some intent in this, and I actually like it personally when a film is ambiguous, and I loved debating it with the students and getting them to think it through. However, I haven't been able to get round all working class folk in the midlands (yet) so I'm guessing a lot are still thinking it might encourage/celebrate racism to some extent.

    Well what do you think – should he make his films have more of a puncy finale?

  3. @flickeringmyth – well, as you can see I only watched it the other day! I know what you mean, the film shows real raw skill – akin to dogs and clerks.

    @RD Bourne – interesting points about endings but I wouldn't be suprised if 'This is England '86' might be a way to get more closure on that one than what was left in the film originally. But I think with 24/7 you were waiting for something to snap and Tims Dad had to get it. Thinking about 'Romeo Brass' and 'Dead Mans Shoes', they both end with a pretty big finish … and I don't think i'd change them for the world. To some extent it is always about some character/issue bubbling throughout the film and exploding at the end.

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