South West 9
September 12, 2003
South West 9 was made by the same company as Human Traffic, which although itself not really much of a movie is emerging as one of the better British flicks of recent times, which shows you just how bad most British films are. But Human Traffic, I feel, was a film of two halves; the first, weaker half, contained all the movies references to drugs, pubs, clubs, raves etc. (which is what the film was promoted on), while the second, stronger half instead concentrated on such traditional elements as narrative, characterisation and relations between characters. When Human Traffic laid off its drugs/clubs scene setting and concentrated instead on its characters and story it became a decent enough little film. So you would have thought that the filmmakers would have learnt a lesson for their second feature and produced a movie with a great story and interesting characters. But no, everything that was weak and superficial in Human Traffic is brought to the fore in South West 9.
The story, such as it is, concerns the lives of various characters in SW9 over the course of 24 hours, yet all they seem to do is take drugs, deal drugs, steal drugs and waste their lives away; and characters are so flimsy as to not even drift into stereotypes. But this is no Robert Altman style slice of life where numerous narrative threads are brought together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts, this is just botched film-making. Nothing really happens in the two hours and nothing interesting is said; the film just trundles along. And there is also a very nasty anti-capitalist, anti-police sub plot culminating in an animation of London office blocks being destroyed; if the filmmakers had a legitimate political point to make about capitalist support of corrupt military regimes, as they seemed to, it was lost completely in its clumsy exposition. And then as if sensing that all was lost, at the end of the movie they tack on a totally unnecessary gangster/gun action finale; yep, another Brit gangster flick. But frankly, by then, I was so tired of the whole sorry deal I couldn’t have cared less.
The British film industry seems to be in dire straights at the moment with one bad film after another and films like South West 9 can only bring it down even further. I would also like to point out that I went to see this film on its opening Friday night at my local multiplex and I was the only person in the cinema! Even when I went to see the absolutely awful Rancid Aluminium on its opening night there were a few dozen people there. As nasty as it may seem, I was glad to see that after only one week on release SW9 was pulled from cinemas.