Yeah, anyway, so Day 24…
It was a toss-up today between this and 24 Hour Party People. Twenty Four Seven shaded it (just), mainly because it got 5 stars in Empire. I’m shallow like that. It also had the added bonus of a rare starring role for Bob Hoskins, who recently retired from acting due to the onset of Parkinson’s Disease. He’s a bit underrated, is Bob Hoskins. Particularly for someone of my generation who knows him mainly for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Smee in Hook and the ubiquitous BT adverts from the mid-90s. I haven’t seen The Long Good Friday or Mona Lisa. Based on this evidence, I’ll be adding them to the list.
Twenty Four Seven is the directorial debut of Shane Meadows, and charts the efforts of a middle-aged loner (Bob Hoskins) to set up a boxing club for disaffected youths. With recruits ranging from rival gangs, weed-addled druggies and actors soon to be regulars in The Bill, the film is set up to be a traditional, life-affirming, triumph-against-the-odds-type tale.
Luckily, it’s a bit more nuanced and complicated than that. Bob Hoskins, as the driving force behind the youth empowerment scheme, is a sad, lonely bloke whose good intentions and cheery disposition mask a life of disappointed ambition and thwarted love. All the training montages in Wales can’t hide the depressing lack of prospects for this disparate group of youths from an unexceptional Midlands town.
You’d expect the final competition to provide a sliver of hope and triumph for the individuals involved, as a vindication of their efforts, and as a reward for the audience’s attention. Unfortunately, the ensuing punch-up has little to do with the art of boxing. The foibles come to the fore, not least of which those that have been buried for decades. It’s a downbeat conclusion, only afterwards reflecting on and acknowledging the ties that bind this community together.
It’s a sophisticated and challenging debut, with cinematic flourishes that speak to a certain time and generation, and which hint at a more ambitious film than the plot can ultimately deliver.