A Room for Romeo Brass is a film which reminded me of several things. The strong accents adopted by the characters reminded me of my time in the East Midlands while at University and Shane Meadows’ gritty, personal, social realist style felt like a re-imagined Ken Loach. The film tells the story of two young boys who meet an older man and start hanging around him while he attempts to get one of the boy’s sisters to go out with him. It’s a simple premise but makes for an absorbing plot thanks to a well written and natural script alongside some fine performances.
The film sees the big screen debut of Paddy Considine, an actor who has since worked with Shane Meadows on several occasions and has cemented himself as one of Britain’s most exciting acting talents. Not only has Considine had mainstream success in The Bourne franchise but also directed the multi award winning Tyrannosaur in 2011. Acting alongside the talented Considine is another frequent Meadows collaborator, Andrew Shim, who plays the title role of Romeo. The movie is driven by Considine though, through the early stages of exploratory and slightly comedic development, towards the latter stages in which the character and film become much darker, Considine is a magnetic and welcome presence on the screen.
All of the major characters are expertly written by Meadows and Paul Fraser. The boys speak and act as you’d expect real kids to do and Considine’s Morell is off-beat and entertaining. There’s more than a hint of Alan Partridge in his performance but he also reminded me of motorbike rider and TV presenter Guy Martin. There’s no mistaking that this is ‘a British Picture’ as the characters spend their time kicking about, drinking tea, smoking fags and generally just living. There’s little excitement in their lives, at least not until Morell shows up. Despite the boring lives lead by the characters, I was entranced by their world. It was simple but fascinating. The film makes me understand the appeal of soap operas like Coronation Street a little more than I have done before. The simple plot development and gradual unveiling of Considine’s character lead towards an excellent climax which sees tempers boil and blood spill.
Shane Meadows made A Room for Romeo Brass just a couple of years after his first feature but you’d struggle to spot his lack of experience. The film is thoroughly well made and there are some terrific touches in the camera work which elevate the movie above typical low budget British drama and give it a rich, expensive look. The director learned his craft in over forty short films which were made in the Nottingham area with friends. That alternative to film school seems to have given Meadows the filmmaker’s eye straight off the bat. Considering he is amongst my country’s foremost young directing talents I really should have seen more of his work but unfortunately I’ve only seen a couple of his movies. On the back of this, I will be searching out more.
In addition to great acting and direction, the movie also features a terrific soundtrack. Artists such as Beck, The Specials, Billy Bragg and The Stone Roses whose recent reunion forms the basis of the director’s latest film Made of Stone, all appear and the music works brilliantly with the rest of the film. Overall A Room for Romeo Brass chugs along for a decent ninety minutes. It’s rarely lacklustre and some excellent central performances help it along its way to becoming a solid British kitchen sink drama with a little spice hidden in the back of the cupboard.