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Sunday, 18 July 2010

Nicola Collins, the creative force behind The End: Confessions of A Cockney Gangster (2008) started out in acting and also worked as a fashion model. Her twin sister Teena produced the film. Their father, Les Falco, is one of its stars. The two women were born in 1978 and this is their first production.

It's a film that probably had to be made. Subtitled and decorated with an interestingly dark and complex soundtrack and fashionable visuals, the film appears to target a US audience. Explaining cockney lags and geezers to Americans requires a few atmospherics and even more cognitive aids, it seems.

In a sense it is good that this film was made when it was. News stories appeared recently telling us that cockney would disappear as other slang used by London's disadvantaged youth takes precedence in cop shows and films. The film is a kind of pickling jar, and all of the men who appear in it tell us with some level of regret that they are aware of this demographic shift.

On the other hand, the men who face Collins' camera are a band of robbers, standover men, debt collectors who use questionable methods to secure their money, and probably even worse.

So while their attempts to justify their activities stand up while you're watching it and this empethy is testament to the filmmakers' skill, later on when you get to thinking about the ragged collection of clapped-out brawlers and thugs you realise that you wouldn't want to spend much time with any of them in real life. They come across OK in front of a camera but you know that everything else being equal the situation could turn ugly pretty quickly given the right circumstances.

The Collins twins clearly spent a lot of time and thought in producing this film. The hours of video interviews are skillfully assembled with an eye to retaining some form of coherent narrative arc, so that the segues between themes are seamless. As such they deserve respect, despite the suspicion that there's a certain quantum of ego driving the whole enterprise. And a bit of voyeurism, too. After all, this is a dying breed - as we've been told - and the new breed of thugs - and there must be one lurking about the traps, to be sure - remains undocumented.

Perhaps the twins could make a similar movie with that demographic in their sights. For novelty value this would top the current project, and for public interest too.

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