“100 Streets” Is A Forgettable Soap Opera

Despite a strong cast, Jim O’Hanlon’s 100 Streets fails to step above soap opera styling and ultimately becomes a forgettable letdown. Martin Carr reviews…

Jim O’Hanlon’s London life melodrama is a notch up from television soap due to quality performances by Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton and Ken Stott. Dropped into a geographically condensed soap opera, we see these characters mildly effect each other and move on. Dialogue is passable but nothing out of the ordinary, as events unfold, relationships experience a bump in the road then return to normal.

Those who come out best are Elba who co-produced the project as well as Arterton who between them play husband and wife. Elsewhere within this eclectic cast resides Franz Drameh’s Kingsley, a council estate bully boy who dreams of bigger things. His is the performance which causes the most ripples, as he stands shoulder to shoulder with Stott in difficult scenes and proves worthy. Reminiscent of John Boyega in Attack The Block, Kingsley acknowledges his place in the pecking order but refuses to lay down and accept limitations.

 

Arterton and Elba play their infidelity cards as national sporting celebrity and burgeoning actress turned WAG respectively. This relationship is nothing new to film and there are no new twists in the mix which rise it above the competition. However O’Hanlon does well in portraying the character of this capital making it feel vibrant, urban and contemporary without resorting to caricature or cliché.

A rites of passage structure unfolds between Stott’s Terence and Drameh’s Kingsley that works, but again adds no new ingredients to a tested formula. Charlie Creed Miles and Kiersten Wareing fair slightly better in their storyline which again feels more soap opera than silver screen. However pathos is squeezed from this arc and their closure is perhaps O’Hanlon’s saving grace. In truth 100 Streets is a solidly constructed snapshot of London life, but these overlapping lives fail to engage because the circumstance, coincidence and serendipity lack reality.

 

What it does provide in terms of substance is undone towards the end, unravelling all that good work in favour of exaggeration which undermines a sense of closure. For that reason there is a dislocation which short changes any dramatic tension and hamstrings any build up. Performances may be solid and Elba, Arterton and Stott might bring everything to the table, but ultimately these characters are under developed and never move beyond stereotype. This accounts for the tonal imbalance veering between poignancy, teenage gangland stand offs and misjudged histrionic gun toting. Worth watching if only for Franz Drameh’s break out performance, 100 Streets is enjoyable without ever stepping up to the big leagues. A shameful admission when you consider those involved.