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It can be a hard enough life in London as it is, what with the pressure of a descending job market and then there’s your failed marriage, signifying your impending descent. Difficult enough to prop-up on your own, you’re then caught up with an unwanted set-up from a local psychotic gang leader, throwing you into a spiraling world of crime and what’s left? A plot that’s not far between Ben Wheatley’s Kill List (although will a little less violence) and Garry Oldman’s Nil By Mouth (although with a little less intoxication).
Nice Guy is the ironic title for Pascal Bergamin’s most recent work and his first UK movie release. The story follows David Reighton, played by Cavan Clerkin, known for other gritty, London dramas such as Gangster No. 1 and Pierre Point: The Last Hangman. In Nice Guy he portrays an unemployed father on the brink of depression, struggling to hold his life together and find work in the London job market, a well-known figure in contemporary British society. It’s perhaps this realistic character that makes watching his downfall a much more harrowing and rather emotive experience. As Reighton tries to rediscover his life he chooses the alcohol fueled stripper parties route in one of the local nightclubs, inebriating himself, getting into fights and generally being a London lad. The scenes are cut in between the other half, looking after his son and a marriage on the brink, causing the viewer to almost sympathize with Reighton’s yearning for “something else.” But just as our Nice Guy is beginning to feel the essence of youth again, he gets caught up in a murder case, dragging the plot into a nightmarish world of an indefinite debt to the murderous gang member Tommy Evans, played by Doug Allen.
The opening scene is one of the most memorable here, with a shot taken from a more significant point in the story. As we see Reighton taping phone directories to his torso and sprinting across London in a panic, overplays of his voice crescendo into the title, setting the scene and atmosphere fittingly for the movie. The rest of the film follows well and is shot in a very tasteful manner. Bergamin’s technique leaves a lot to the imagination, a refreshing break from the shock tactics often used in more recent movies. Many of the slow and tangled interludes allow the viewer to become more involved with Reighton’s predicament as well as his rather depressing and monotonous home life. And yet as he delves deeper into a web of delinquency you can’t help but feeling anxious of his next move. Watching the climatic scene is an edge-of-seat experience with a truly excellent revelation.
There’s a lot to say about this film in that it’s a gritty British crime thriller with a little less violence and a little more depth (although there is still some violence, of course). As a director Bergamin has perfectly captured the essence of an average man on the edge of desperation. A well thought out plot and a well-thought out direction. Watch out for it’s coming UK release or if you can’t wait check it out on Google Play or order from .