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100 Streets is London Tapestry With Some Ragged Threads



The lives of three strangers occasionally intersect in 100 Streets, a British multi-storyline (melo)drama opening Friday at the Cedar Lee. Idris Elba and Gemma Arterton star in the film directed by TV vet Jimmy O'Hanlon.

Elba is Max Moore, a former British rugby captain now running a foundation which bears his name. He is as suave and as hunky and as frequently tuxedoed as ever. After a fling with the nanny, his wife Emily (Gemma Arterton) has cast him out; she's decided to get back into acting to "keep her off the happy pills." Max, who misses his wife and two children, drifts into drug and alcohol abuse.

A cabby named George (Charlie Creed-Miles, who plays Billy Kimber in Netflix's Peaky Blinders) and his wife Kathy (Kierston Wareing) are trying to adopt a child. But a few incidents of football hooliganism in George's past stall their application. Kathy prepares for a charity run.

Kingsley (Franz Drameh, CW's The Flash) is a young gangbanger who's fed up with the violence of the streets; its literal dead end looms. After an altercation at a club, he is sentenced to community service. There he meets Terrence (Ken Stott), who inspires him to embrace his artsier side.

The film bops among these three storylines, but the connective tissue is flimsy. The title is intended to connote a certain area of London, presumably, and the stories are perhaps meant to show the diversity and breadth of life's challenges within a confined space. If this is true, the physical space is ill-defined, or at least it seems that way for viewers (like me) unfamiliar with London's geography. The film opens and closes with shots of the same bridge on the Thames — an entrance and exit? — but if the entirety of the film transpires within a single neighborhood, it isn't clear. The only direct connection between characters is Terrence, who's background in the theater facilitates an eventual meeting.

Individually, the performances and stories have their moments. In particular, there's Drameh as Kingsley, who recalls the same cockney street culture we saw in Attack the Block (which launched the career of The Force Awakens' Jon Boyega) — "bruv" and so forth — and who has one or two impressive scenes in confrontation with the gang's ideological opposite. Kingsley is something of a Stringer Bell (Elba's character on HBO's The Wire) who would rather make money than engage in gang warfare.

Though both Elba and Arterton are fine, their story is pure rote melodrama, every beat anticipated. Viewers can envision much better movies unfolding (without the extraneous cabby storyline) involving dynamics between Max Moore and Kingsley.

As it stands, the third act "revelations" are weak. Each story builds to an over-the-top climax that, once again, would be credible individually. But when all three occur simultaneously, with zero impact on the others, one wonders at the purpose.

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