Film review: GBH starring Nick Nevern and Kellie Shirley

11:53 28 September 2012

Kellie Shirley as Louise.

Kellie Shirley as Louise.


“I’m a policeman, of course I’m insane,” growls PC Damien to his love interest and fellow copper Louise in British film GBH.

This stark yet thought provoking film follows the troubled couple in the days before the London riots, exploring the anguish and inner turmoil of a generation.

This is not your average hooligan piece, nor is it a shiny ‘shoot-em-up’ action drama.

From the role of the police, to domestic abuse, to the recession, a lot is covered in 90 minutes. Perhaps obviously, GBH is not for children: this is for adults who can deal with big ‘in your face’ ideas combined with some fairly graphic violence.

GBH has a strong cast of actors, most notably the two protagonists. Nick Nevern’s solitary, sulky Damien is a flawed individual with whom the audience ultimately empathise while EastEnders actress Kellie Shirley’s Louise is a real vulnerable tough-nut.

Without giving too much away, one of her most dramatic scenes is quite simply a masterclass in how to emote an audience and makes for excellent, harrowing viewing. There is also brief cameo from legendary thespian Steven Berkoff as a very serious chief inspector with a penchant for sweeping things under the carpet, which will make any film buff smile.

There’s sometimes a danger that scripted speech in a realistic film can be forced and, at times, it is. Also, there are some awkward ‘chapter’ indicators – ‘two weeks before’ etc – that could have been removed. If an audience is able to digest such complex themes, they are probably ok with keeping up with the plot.

Overall, this is a stark, violent and haunting film that explores both a man and a city at war with themselves, set in one of the most turbulent times in our modern history. It is excellent and highly recommended.

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