Despite being split across three different character’s lives, ‘100 Streets’ doesn’t feel like a film split into three. It feels like a film split into two. Two distinct halves of the film that contrast with one another to such an extent that it almost felt like two different writing teams had tackled this. The first half is a decent drama with good pacing and characterisation but the second half throws away any of the good work the first half achieved with an insane climax and far too many unanswered questions.
The story, as I mentioned before, follows three different characters. Ex rugby star Max (Idris Elba) is an absolute scene stealer as he effortlessly portrays a troubled Father desperate to save his marriage with his wife, former actress Emily (Gemma Arterton). Their scenes are arguably the strongest as well and if I’m honest, would have made a compelling enough tale to span across 90 minutes without the need of the other two stories.
That’s not to say the other stories aren’t good though, Kingsley (Franz Drameh) is a small time drug dealer who longs to get away from a life of crime to focus on his art. In a chance encounter while doing community service, he finds a way out and more importantly, meaning in his life but his past isn’t done with him as he finds out. To round out the three characters there’s George, a man who’s marriage is tested when a road accident occurs.
Whilst the three individual tales are good, together it felt jarring at times with the stories attempting (sometimes cleverly mostly inconsequentially) to overlap to remind us they’re all in the same universe. The first half of the film is handled with care and each of the stories are told in such a way that they all feel like they’re building to something. Unfortunately what they build to, is nowhere near the same standard set in the first half.
Up until this point I actually thought the film was pretty solid. The acting is good and authentic and the dialogue felt natural in almost all the scenes. There’s some really good work put into making each of the tales feel unique and have a decent beginning and middle but the ending to each, with the exception of George’s, feels rushed and unsatisfying. Of course, I’m not going to give anything away but I felt feeling like there were a number of unanswered questions that left me more frustrated than satisfied.
It’s an odd one to score really because most of what ‘100 Streets’ does, it does reasonably well. It certainly isn’t the most outstanding film of 2016, nor is it one that will be remembered due to its jarring plot issues but there is still some good points to take from it. Idris Ebla is absolutely sublime here and his acting alone is enough to elevate it along with the compelling tale his character undertakes for the first hour or so. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to look past the main thing I took away from ‘100 Streets’ which was 100 unanswered plot-related questions and 100 what ifs in relation to the script.