Independent British cinema is lousy with tales of poor young idiots off the housing estates (American translation: the projects) getting into trouble with the law out of desperation and lack of other feasible options. And if that’s what The Rise (aka Wasteland in North America) looks like at first, one can only imagine that it is writer-director Rowan Athale pulling our collective leg… or lulling us into a false sense of been-there, done-that before springing his deliciously clever originality on us. For here we have Harvey (Luke Treadaway: Killing Bono) being interrogated by cop DI West (the always intriguing Timothy Spall: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2) about a spot of bother he’s gotten into, and Harvey just out of prison and all. The story that Harvey tells West about what happened to lead to his arrest is fascinating in its own right, involving criminals (to wit, Neil Maskell’s [Kill List] drug dealer) who know how to manipulate the cops, and how to manipulate the (apparent) saps like Harvey who just want to be left alone. But then we start to realize that, given the told-tale nature of the plot and Harvey’s own potentially nefarious motives, that perhaps we cannot quite trust what Harvey is telling West… and us. This marvelous feature debut from Athale is so smooth and so accomplished that it’s hard to believe this is a first film. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
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