Who Needs Enemies, 2013.
Written and Directed by Peter Stylianou.
Starring Emma Barton, Michael McKell, Ian Pirie, Kris Johnson, Tom Carey and Vicky Donovan.
When local London gangster and ex-boxer Tom Sheridan agrees to hire his strip club out to lifelong friend and colleague Ian Levine he soon discovers the private party involves something so atrocious and unspeakable that it sparks a bloody feud between the two old friends and their foot soldiers in a story of morality, loyalty and betrayal.
When it comes to low-budget British movies, the gangster genre is always a popular route to go down. Thanks to the minimal financial requirements the genre demands, many independent filmmakers opt for narratives centred on fast-talking mobsters. With such a high quantity of these films, it takes something unconventional to set a new project apart from the crowd, and that’s precisely what Who Needs Enemies tries to do.
Set in the same murky underworld of strip clubs and murders that we’ve seen so many times before, Who Needs Enemies attempts to distinguish itself by playing around with the notion of taboo. Writer/Director Peter Stylianou asks a simple question: When a lifestyle is so saturated with crime and death, what is considered morally wrong?
It is a thought-provoking concept, and one that certainly goes someone way to propel Who Needs Enemies into a realm of intrigue. Unfortunately though, there’s very little in the way of substance behind the initial idea. At times the acting edges a little too close to that of a soap opera, which is a little distracting, but requires some forgiveness given the size and budget of the film.
As for Stylianou himself, it is clear that his talent lies in direction rather than writing. Despite the encouraging premise, the film’s plot seems to hit long-winded where it was aiming for complex. The repeated introduction of forgetful characters makes it seem as though the director is trying to draw attention away from the underlying concept, which is the last thing the film needs. Credit where it is due though, there is some excellent camerawork on show here, making Who Needs Enemies look like a more sophisticated film with far fewer limitations.
Who Needs Enemies probably won’t thrill you, but it could very well get you thinking. It’s a fresh interpretation of an often-repetitive genre that just seems to fall short at the crucial moment. In short, it’s a great concept that doesn’t get the execution or resources it really deserves.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
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