Directed by: #GrantMurphy
Written by: Grant Murphy
Obviously trying to emulate the styles of modern British gritty crime dramas such as Layer Cake or anything by Guy Ritchie, writer director Grant Murphy can’t deliver the realism he desperately desires. Brumville aims to tell a gripping story about the realities of crime in Birmingham exploring drugs, gang violence, and murder but the flawed script and filmmaking make it difficult for an audience to become invested. Focusing on three storylines covering both sides of the law, Murphy stars as Connor, local drug pusher along with his friends Lee and Mikey who wants to make enough money to get out of the criminal life. This storyline happening alongside the exploits of local crime boss Charlie Jones played by Dean Kilbey as he brings a new wave of violence upon those who betray him ending with a grisly murder and then Brumville follows the police investigation into this death and begins connecting all the storylines together.
These connections are slim because Murphy doesn’t have his scenes feel connected to a larger narrative, most of the scenes are just the male characters either indulging in conversations about their sexual activities or committing acts of violence. There is a very juvenile attitude to Brumville as it doesn’t seem to be attempting a story for most of the runtime, certain scenes mention character motivation but there is no real followthrough with any of it making the direction feel aimless. The catalyst for the main drama, Stanley Giles feels like a random appearance until he’s suddenly the focus for Jones’ and the police’s storylines. The connections between the characters are not well established for the audience so the dramatic payoffs in the third act have little effect, the whole film feels like an excuse for Murphy and his friends to play the lamest game of cops and robbers.
Only Dean Kilbey’s performance as villain Charlie Jones captures the realism that Murphy wants in his film. The character is cliché, a classic British thug and the dialogue is very crude and obvious but Kilbey is the only actor to make this work to his benefit. Brumville wants to achieve this thematic resonance about crime and the cycles of violence affecting our characters but doesn’t do any of the work to back it up. It’s very hollow storytelling that feels random and doesn’t create any form of emotional or emphatic reaction from the audience. Further seen by the quality of the filmmaking as Murphy’s vision of Birmingham has no discernible cinematic attraction.
Shaky and unfocused camera movements, jarring editing and sound design, inconsistent colour temperature, Brumville’s presentation does everything it can to break its immersion for the audience. With its unrealistic characters and dialogue, the lack of visual and auditory grounding for the film is a major detriment to taking anything about the film seriously. It’s not difficult to tell what’s going on but it is difficult to care why any of it is happening as Murphy’s editing builds no tension or intrigue to any of the scenes or character’s fates.
A disappointing unfocused attempt, Grant Murphy’s vision of a Birmingham broken by crime and corruption doesn’t achieve the dramatic heights he envisioned.