Down Terrace (2009)
La Familia Dysfunctional
Having avoided a lengthy stay in prison Bill (Robert Hill) and his son Karl (Robin Hill) return home to Maggie (Julia Deakin) and their terraced house where their crime operation runs from through their extended family. But things are uneasy as the apparently calm Bill wants to find out who the grass is who almost got him and Karl thrown inside for more than a few months and who ever it is they are not going to get away with. To make matters worse Karl's ex arrives and she is pregnant with his child.
When you say crime family, gangster movie certain concepts might come to mind from a man living in luxury to having protection hanging around but "Down Terrace" is very different. Not only does this movie take us to a regular house on a regular street in a regular English town but it is a movie which is not about what happens but the characters and the set up. That means that "Down Terrace" isn't going to be for everyone although even if it is hard work certain things will make you smile.
To try and explain we have the concept of the classic crime boss tossed out of the window and replaced by the sort of guy who lives up the road and has done so for ever. And Bill is a fascinating character with his knitted boots, pipe and love of playing guitar he is as far from being a head of a crime family as you can get and kind of looks more like a builder who has smoked a pack a day for his entire life. Karl is just as entertaining for being completely opposite to what you expect but his situation is more amusing such as being a grown man living at home and expecting his mum to do everything for him. This is certainly not the archetype cinema crime family with their run down home and cluttered book shelves which lack glamour.
But this creates for an entertaining dynamic because one minute you have Bill the terrifying head of the family who has respect of the family but then you will have this dysfunctional family set up where Bill gets angry with Karl over his personal life. It makes it comical as we go from crime to dysfunction especially with the brilliant Julia Deakin as matriarch Maggie listening to it all from the kitchen caring for her men but in a way that you know that she could step in at any time and break arguments up and so on.
What this all boils down to is that "Down Terrace" isn't going to be for everyone; it is low key, it is awkward, it is about characters rather than what happens and it is very British in the set up but the conflict between a crime family and the dysfunctional aspect of them makes for a lot of fun in a strangely engaging way which keeps you watching.
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