This film has been widely lauded but I didn’t like it. I’m not sure why; is it the fact that I come across tykes like Arbor (‘big mouth’ above) as part of my day job? Maybe it’s my dislike of naturalism, texts that look at ‘low life’ without any political framework (though Mark Kermode says it is political here). I wasn’t engaged by the opening scene where Arbor and his mate, Swifty, opportunistically nick someone else’s thieving; I thought the scene badly directed and so unconvincing. There were loose ends: the electric cable lying around on waste land; the fact that Swifty can sit in the school’s reception despite being excluded; the absence of social services; it was explicitly set in Bradford but you wouldn’t know it from the mise en scene. And I wasn’t won over by the performances, despite the fact that they were convincing.
I saw it in Bradford and, for the art house screen, it was pretty full for an early evening screening though that might be simply to do with the local factor as it didn’t perform well nationally. The people I saw it with were ‘moved’ by the film so maybe it’s my jaundiced perception, as a teacher, who has to deal with ‘Arbors’ in a system that has no place for them.