Top Boy (2011)

Four-Part Television Serial | Crime-Drama | UK | English | 3h15m | Dir: Yann Demange | Scr: Ronan Bennett | DP: Tat Radcliffe | Prod: Charles Steel, Alasdair Flind, & Ronan Bennett | Mus: Brian Eno | Ed: Chris Wyatt | PD: Jacqueline Abrahams | Cast: Ashley Walters, Kane Robinson, Shone Romulus, Malcolm Kamulete, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Giacomo Mancini, Nicholas Pinnock, Kierston Wareing, Cyrus Desir, Geoff Bell, David Hayman, Benedict Wong
There is much to admire in this stylish, well-paced four-part television drama from Channel 4, not the least of which being its fine performances, with the ever-reliable Walters’s being the pick of the bunch. And, eschewing the usual kitchen sink approach to the depiction of urban deprivation, there’s also plenty to excite the senses, with some striking, highly-stylised, shallow-focus photography and a decidedly (if sometimes annoyingly) eclectic score. The screenplay, mixing violent and suspenseful set-pieces with gentle, Shane Meadows-like coming-of-age scenes also pleases, though some of the dialogue (very) occasionally feels a little expository. However the violence, though often surprising, never quite feels as shocking and discomfiting as it should, with all of the action scenes in general being somewhat less well staged than its quieter moments. And of course, with this being a tale of drug dealing on a north London council estate, replete with drug deals gone wrong, teenaged wan’o-bes, reformed gangsters, and absentee fathers, it is not without the odd cliché or two. Generally very impressive, never the less.