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City of Tiny Lights


Stars: Riz Ahmed, Billie Piper, Cush Jumbo, James Floyd, Roshan Seth, Hannah Rae

Director: Pete Travis

Another unfathomable plot and London slang that will defeat all but the keenest ear blight this intermittently enjoyable latter-day noir which, as is fashionable these days, blends past events with the present-day, where private eye Tommy Akhbar (Ahmed) receives the traditional starter to these cases in the form of a shapely woman, in this case a dusky prostitute (Jumbo) called Melody.

She wants Tommy to find her flatmate, Russian hooker Natasha, who has disappeared. Tommy's investigation leads him into contact with old friends from college days, following the discovery of a dead male body in the prostitute's flat.

There are some amusing exchanges between 'bruvs' along the way, but the film can't quite decide whether it's a comedy-thriller or something altogether more serious. Still, Ahmed is given a lot of typically noir lines in Patrick Neate's screenplay - 'I deal in the lies they tell and the truths they don't' - before admitting that, following an encounter with old flame Shelley (Piper) 'death weighs heavier than heartbreak' as he moves to close the case.

'I wanted to stick around,' he intones. 'but I had a girl to find and a murder to solve.'

Some blurry, slo-mo, handheld camerawork is an additional distraction for us, if not for our intrepid detective, who's aided at the last by his ailing, cricket bat-wielding father, a role in which veteran Seth all but steals the show.

David Quinlan

UK 2016. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour (unspecified).
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 03 Apr 2017