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A bit uneven maybe, but still an impressive character study
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
London is a city full of people, moving about in droves, with little time for each other, facing straight ahead and barely noticing each other exists. From the top looking down below, people might well appear like 'rats', scurrying about to whatever garbage bin has attracted their attention. No one appears to have the time to look in the more solitary corners and see the sorry state of affairs going on there. In short, it's a terrible place to be lonely and stared down at. Yet the main characters presented in City Rats, each one linked to each other in some way which we find out about as the story goes on, prompt the sort of contempt which makes us inflict this grim fate on them but as events roll on, we are forced to see them in a different light and see less judgemental reasoning for how things turned out like they did for them. Starting with the ex drug dealer trying to buckle down to an honest living who is approached by the mother of a guy he used to know to help track him down, we move on to a wife beater separated from his family who whiles away his time dropping water melons from tall buildings and sharing phone sex with a crippled prostitute who finds herself the interest of a poet who lives on the floor below her. Meanwhile, a man takes his deaf, autistic brother on a tour around seedy Soho to help him lose his virginity and come to terms with his homosexuality.
Maybe we don't have the best actors to play them, but this is still a very impressive character study, that has a clever use of atmosphere, mood and soundtrack to engross us in what's going on. The whole 'water melons dropping from a building' thing is a bit weird and not explained properly but Tamer Hassan's character develops the most, with his relationship with a similarly suicidal young woman which has a devastating, abrupt conclusion. A small film with some flaws, but enough going on beneath the surface to make it shine. ****
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