Directed by Marcus Flemmings Starring Adam J. Bernard, Phoebe Torrance and Santino Zicchi Indie Film Review by Owen Herman
Set in the wake of the 2011 riots, Six Rounds explores the character of Stally (Adam J. Bernard) as he is dragged, by emotional blackmail and pride, into the past that he desperately needs to escape. The opening moments tell us it is going to be another film about boxing, but the monochrome look and the camera’s focus on almost nothing but Stally’s face for the first five minutes lets you know that this movie is going to move away from the clichéd constraints of the boxing genre.
This first five minutes tells you so much about the film you are about to see, from director Marcus Flemmings’ vision to the themes it will explore. The text giving a brief description of the riots in London gives you the sense that this film has a lot of emotion behind its creation and a view to look into modern British society, particularly regarding race and class. The monochrome gives the film a dramatic and intense edge. It could be a bit of a gimmick to make a movie seem a bit ‘arty’ but Flemmings’ choice fits well with the overall tone. The way the camera reveals so little in the early moments gets you thinking right from the start. This is a film that doesn’t want to spoon feed you information, it wants to be thought provoking and ambiguous. Once the film gets going, it sets up an intriguing storyline ripe with insights into areas of British culture. Adam J. Bernard gives a stunning central performance as Stally, capturing a man caught between the different classes of society with subtlety, but also packing a punch in the more raw and powerful moments. Stally’s ambitious girlfriend (Phoebe Torrance) and foul mouthed old pal (the brilliantly convincing Santino Zicchi) are the personifications of the diverse and contrasting classes that offer Stally either an escape or a return to his past. A solid script offers great character moments and allows Stally room to develop. Flemmings uses the riots to create an emotional backbone to the story, but never relies on it cheaply. Shocking footage of the carnage is used intermittently and the director explores the idea that they were political protests at the same time as criticising those who used the riots for material gain.
As well as the obvious comparison to Raging Bull, Flemmings has clearly been influenced by many great films and directors. My favourite was the way the director emulates Stanley Kubrick, with backgrounds that hide little details (all painstakingly arranged I imagine), as well clever shots that demand attention. There is real potential here and I would love to see what Flemmings could do with a full budget. The editing is also worth noting, from lingering shots to a clever moment where the dialogue is overlaid with characters’ reactions. Filmmakers that are heavily influenced by others often make something too derivative. Six Rounds flirts with this potential problem, but there are enough stylistic choices, such as short moments of colour and an interesting narrative structure, to keep it feeling fresh.
With Six Rounds Marcus Flemmings has shown he is a talented and intelligent filmmaker who is really getting to grips with his own unique style. A powerful and touching film that gets everything right, from performance to editing, and leaves a lasting impression.