Looted – Film Review
by Hugh Maguire
Director: Rene van Pannevis (as Rene Pannevis)
Writers: Kefi Chadwick, Rene van Pannevis (as Rene Pannevis)
Stars: Charley Palmer Rothwell, Thomas Turgoose, Tom Fisher
For those with only a passing knowledge of English geography, Hartlepool is located south of Newcastle and Durham on the west coast. The evocative camerawork in Looted, explores the kissed architecture of the aforementioned Hartlepool, suggesting that things may not be as ‘grim up north’ as we imagine them to be, but don’t be deceived! Minutes into the film, we accept that despite the weather not much else has changed in northern England. This grimness is not about place per se but the circumstances in which people find themselves. Here young men at a loose end with few qualifications and fewer opportunities find themselves drawn to petty crime. The comparatively thin plot follows the pressure leading up to a more significant heist, casing the joint, and who will do the driving!
And in relation to the plot, that’s about it! But the concise narrative is used to good effect and carries a lot of social commentary without being hectoring. This is largely on the shoulders of the back story, where Rob the driver (Charley Palmer Rothwell), who is caring for his terminally-ill father is the main muscle of the piece. Cutting it tough with his mates, although clearly having some sort of moral compass, his driving skills and bravado mask the crisis on his home front. His father is dying from a work-related illness for which the employer accepts no responsibility, and we watch Rob feed, wash and afford some level of care, and love, to a father he feels was not there for him as a child. Glances, looks and what is unsaid is captured beautifully and with feeling, all without descending into the mawkish. The shabby curtains on a window, the chip pan, the sense of decay and despair is eloquent. Dying is awful and the emotional upheaval around death is even worse. Without being explicit so much is achieved here with a look. There is always hope and Rob is finding a new redemptive future in the support of Kasia the Polish drifter girlfriend of his dodgy, possibly nut job, ‘friend’.
This master class in acting, by all involved, draws us into the horribly pressured world of those forgotten by employment services, healthcare and social welfare systems. We cannot be certain about Rob’s immediate future, in the eyes of the law, but we are reassured that the sun will rise again on his personal life and that for Rob and the Hartlepools of this world, there can be brighter days ahead.