Directed by David Campion
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Littered with strong performances and emotionally-arresting scenes of drama and violence, Woodfalls depicts a volatile clash of cultures that is as topical as it is brutal.
Damon (Gareth Bennett-Ryan) and his pals stand around a pub quiz machine, drinking pints of lager. Across the day-lit bar sits a solitary man called Billy (Matthew Ferdenzi), sipping his own beer in relative peace. One coughed-up phlegm later, and Billy is squaring up against Damon and his pals in the car park, defending himself against flying punches and flick-knives.
The reason for the vicious attack? Billy comes from a community of travellers, cruelly labelled “gypsies” and “pikeys” by Damon, and the tension between the locals and the new arrivals is just getting started.
With a penchant for intense realism and harrowing savagery, David Campion’s film (which he wrote and directed), has a lot in common with the films of Guy Ritchie, whilst keeping one-hand firmly grasped on the pulsating themes that add a great deal of pathos to the proceedings. Like the best of Brit-flicks, Woodfalls pulls no punches, delivering on every count: sex, violence, swearing, and even a poster that says “I (heart) Clunge” - this film is not trying to cater for the masses, it has a distinct ambition and reaches it with attitude.
By dealing with social disfranchisement, the film could have ended up as a pastiche of blended clichés and stereotypes, but the characters of Woodfalls are well defined and thoughtfully complex. There is a constant sense of threat during this indie film that makes a hostile atmosphere throughout for the viewer, and the friction between the varying social cretins that litter the streets is terribly entertaining.
There is a ballsy and pounding techno soundtrack that complements the tone of the film perfectly, offering authenticity to the film without compromising on substance. Very often, indie films must submit to a lesser score of ill-chosen “beats”, Woodfalls, luckily, avoids such a misfire. From the strong opening sequence to the close, music is there to add bulk and muscle to an already rough-and-tough plot.
A little on the dark and dank side for some, fans of gritty-Britty films like Trainspotting (1996) and Snatch (2000) will enjoy the spills of the underbelly as it is torn open before our eyes, revealing the terrifying social angst which can turn a social divide into a purely hateful conflict.