Wild Bill (2011) – Review

Wild Bill is the new film and directorial debut from Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher has a certain amount of respect in this country and rightly so. He has been involved in the industry for a long time now, from the early days as a child actor in Press Gang and Bugsy Malone. Fletcher is now a 48 year old man and has taken the reins for the first time. He also co-wrote the script with Danny King who wrote the TV series, Thieves Like Us.

Initially on hearing about Wild Bill, i was concerned with this films concept – gritty London council estate with a gangster edge. The stumbling block of many a British movie. Not to worry! Fletcher and a fantastic cast avoid the terrible cliches and fake atmosphere that others have struggled to get past.

The film begins with ‘Wild’ Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles) leaving Parkhurst prison and returning home to a council estate in Newham, East London. Visiting his family after a lengthy 8 year sentence for GBH and drug dealing. On arrival home, he discovers that his two young boys, Dean (Will Poulter) and Jimmy (Sammy Williams) have been left to fend for themselves whilst the mother has done a bunk to Spain with a fancy man.

Will Poulter is technically the mum and plays a very solid role as Dean, the older of the two kids. You get the impression that he’s secretly pleased that their Dad is back but extremely wary of putting too much trust into him and being ditched down the line.

Accidentally dropping himself and the kids in it with Social Services, Bill faces facts that the only way to prevent his children being taken into care is to stick around and play Dad. Dean insists that he stays as he owes them for the last 8 years of absence. Reluctantly he agrees, he’s keen to leave but aware that the boys are right.

Once the local faces on the manor see that Bill is back, they try to get him involved with all the sorts of stuff that sent him to prison in the first place. It’s a fine line for Bill, he needs the money to look after the kids but desperately does not want to be heading back to jail.

Having been left alone for some time the kids too have not escaped the local villains attentions. Sammy, the younger boy becomes enlisted as a runner for the local drug gangs.

All the way through it is clear that there will be a great final showdown. With the title ‘Wild Bill’ you could be forgiven for thinking that this is going to be a brawlers film from start to finish. It is not. It is gritty and grotty yes, but ultimately its a warm tale of family life. Mixed into the murkiness of the film, there are some genuinely funny moments. A nice touch. There are some excellent performances from Charlie Creed-Miles and the two boys in particular. I hope, and expect, that this film will catapult their careers to the next level.

Wild Bill is More Mike Leigh than Guy Ritchie, thankfully. With this first feature out the way and some really good feedback, it will be interesting to see what Mr. Fletcher comes back with next time with some added confidence.


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About The Author

Editor, Design Manager

Pete graduated from University in 2003 with a degree in Digital Art. With a real interest in all the creative arts, he then went on to set up his own digital design agency, Elastic Eye - specialising in all forms of graphic design, web design, photography and MoreEyes VJ collective - specialising in VJ'ing, projection mapping and audio-visual performance.

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