Wild Bill (2011)
British actor Dexter Fletcher makes his debut as director with the typically British Wild Bill. The film focuses on Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles) who has been in prison for eight years due to his ‘wild’ ways. Bill has been released from prison and seems to want to put his previous life behind him as he tries to reconnect with his two sons, 11 year old Jimmy (Sammy Williams) and 15 year old Dean (Will Poulter). Dean has been taking care of them in the absence of his father and his mother, who it turns out has ran off to Spain with a lover, and so upon the arrival of his father he is adamant he wants nothing to do with the man who deserted them. Bill seems quite happy to oblige until social services intervene and ensure Bill commits to staying and looking after the boys. Dean agrees Bill can stay until social services are satisfied and so the father and sons try to exist in the same house. At the same time Bill’s past life is coming back to haunt him and Jimmy begins to get mixed up in all sorts of things.
With a setting of grimy East London, gangsters and drugs Wild Bill is not very original and feels quite clichéd. However the film features a plethora of British acting talent including promising younger actors Will Poulter (Lee Carter in Son Of Rambow 2007) and Sammy Williams (Probs in Attack the Block 2011) and it is the performances that really save this film. The redemptive story felt predictable and quite cheesy but the strong acting really draws the viewer in. There are some great cameos including Andy Serkis as the gangster boss but it often feels like a who’s who of British actors. That said the film does offer a slightly different perspective on an old story and is executed in an interesting way.
The soundtrack is perfectly picked with popular reggae/ska tracks dominating the film. The violence depicted towards the end of the film is not half as explicit as it could have been and it was refreshing to see the film focus on the humanity of the characters rather than the crime and violent world they are caught up in. There is enough going on throughout the film to keep you entertained and absorbed and the ending is satisfying and avoids being too predictable. There are some charming and funny moments and plenty of interesting characters to enjoy. Stylistically the film is not very distinct but there are some interesting tracking shots and this is certainly an assured debut from Fletcher.
Overall Wild Bill is not overly memorable or powerful but it is a solid film with some outstanding performances and a great soundtrack.
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Liz White, Sammy Williams, Leo Gregory
Runtime: 96 mins