Made in 2008 in the UK, Eran Creevy’s Shifty is being released in the states by Breaking Glass Pictures and manages to capture all the charm and feel of an independent film and maintain its street cred, as an urban film about drug culture. Riz Ahmed plays the titular character, a small time drug dealer in London, that lives with his brother and has a strained relationship with his family, due to his current profession. Things rapidly change, when Shifty’s best friend, Chris (Daniel Mays) shows up in town, after being gone for the last four years. Things get a little hectic when Shifty’s supplier, Magnus, hears that he’s been doing business on the side from Glen (Jason Flemyng), the actual person that’s double crossing Magnus. With his stash being stolen from strung out customer and having to fend off Magnus in order to survive, Shifty must come to a decision to either stay in the scene in London, or travel to Manchester with Chris to get out of the life for good.
The first thing that struck me was Harry Escott and Molly Nyman’s score for Shifty, that creates a lighter tone than most urban films do. From this, once we’re introduced to our characters through a nice montage over the screen credits, that gives us a nice look into our main players. With this, Creevy then treats the audience with a generous amount of character development, in order for us to buy into the world of Shifty. Where some people might have a hard time buying into the film, for not being gritty enough or street savvy, I found this take on the urban film extremely refreshing and an intimate look into a genuine friendship taking place in an urban environment.
While there were a few plot elements in the film that seemed a little too convenient, a majority of the elements worked well together. The relationship that Shifty has with his brother Rez, played by the fantastic Nitin Ganatra of EastEnders, shows the issues and struggles that he has with his overall family, their expectations for him and the problems that he must deal with. Both the chemistry that Riz Ahmed and Daniel Mays bring to the film and the presence that they carry, really show the strength in their work, the well made script and the talent Eran Creevy has to craft a wonderful first film that is accomplished and enjoyable.
It was all of these things and the film’s positivity that made me love Shifty, along with its great cast and solid script, that make it film worth tracking down. Highly Recommended!