Molly Parker, who’s currently kicking some major Farnum ass on the second season of HBO’s Deadwood, played another recovering junkie in this 2002 drama from Hideous Kinky director Gillies MacKinnon. Though compellingly acted, Pure’s kitchen-sink realism is spit and polished to the point that the story exudes a disconcertingly cheery affection for the lives of its characters. MacKinnon’s camera often pans right into the story’s action while his strenuous overhead shots seem to take their cue from Mikhail Kalatozov’s brilliant Cranes are Flying; the effect isn’t disheartening but flowery. Like the Trainspotting shout-out that kick-starts one detoxification scene, these aesthetic gestures not only lack focus and direction, but they feel out of sync with the narrative, which spends an inordinate amount of time on young Paul (a terrific Harry Eden) running around his West Ham housing project fending off his mum’s boyfriend/supplier and wooing a tarty teen waitress played by Keira Knightley as if he were competing for the Run Lola Run Olympics. There are some genuinely raw emotions on display here, the highlight being a scene in which Mel (Parker) degrades Paul after having asked him to lock her inside her bedroom so she can detox, but why the camera tilts to one side or insists on panning through the wall that separates the sparring mother and child is anyone’s guess. In a way, Pure is the antithesis of Andrea Arnold’s Academy Award-winning “Wasp,” an exploitational look at an impoverished woman trying to raise four kids in a Dartford low-income neighborhood. Interestingly, both films feature characters obsessed with David Beckham, a romantic symbol of upward mobility. The football star represents the strongest point of social insight in these otherwise failed expressions of lower-class bedlam.
- Indican Pictures
- 96 min
- Gillies MacKinnon
- Alison Hume
- Molly Parker, Harry Eden, Vinnie Hunter, David Wenham, Nitin Chandra Ganatra, Levi Hayes, Keira Knightley, Rupert Procter, Bronson Webb, Marsha Thomason, Tyler Smart, Geraldine McEwan, Karl Johnson
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