Most movies struggle to just get one storyline to work, which is why I often fear any movie that tries to converge multiple story lines together. Too often the films end up becoming a mess of poorly developed stories and try to overwhelm the audience with the same emotional beat multiple times rather than using it as an opportunity to bring diversity into the story.
So, will director Jim O’Hanlon’s 100 Streets be able to bring something different to the multi-story genre that can change all that? Well, both yes and no. For one, 100 Streets does a great job in diversifying its stories so that you get something completely different from each of them, as it doesn’t try and pigeon-hole a theme across the movie. On the other though despite some exceptional performances and strong writing, it fails to be greater than the sum of its parts as the different plot lines don’t all hit you with the same intensity.
100 Streets tells three completely unique stories from a diverse set of characters whose only connection in the stories is the neighbourhood that they live in (the entire span of the narrative takes place within the space of 100 London streets). This includes a former national rugby captain (Idris Elba) who misses his glory years and turns to drugs and partying instead of investing the time in his wife (Gemma Arterton) and kids while she is being pursued by another man (Tom Cullen), a former criminal and aspiring poet (Franz Drameh) who despite his best efforts struggles to escape from past mistakes and a cab driver (Charlie Creed-Miles), who desperately wants to start a family with his wife, but has to overcome a series of tragedies to allow him to find completeness in just his relationship with his wife.
That is only a minor microcosm of the stories on offer in 1000 Streets, as you can add a few more characters into the backstories of these main leads that all play a part on the broader narrative. It’s a film with a lot going on, but thanks to some remarkable writing by Leon Butler, you still get an opportunity to know and understand each of the main characters incredibly well. The film does this by not trying to set things up, but rather throwing you into the throngs of the character turmoil, but by providing enough clues along the way to help you piece them together and understand them intimately. It’s a clever balancing act of mystery and character development that is hard to achieve, but so effortlessly done here.
Considering that the movie is a little over 90 minutes and that is even more impressive. It packs a lot in, within a short space of time and yet somehow still has time to waste on landscape shots of London at times. The sharp editing ensures no scene outstays its welcome and keeps things feeling tight and fresh.
As with any ensemble movie like this, its pretty much down to the large and diverse cast to determine whether the movie works or not and thankfully most of the actors in 100 Streets do a solid enough job here in ensuring their characters are believable and worth investing in. The best part about a diverse movie like this is that each actor is essentially needing to bring something different to the movie and for that they got the casting spot on as the right actors bring out the best in their designated characters. Swap them around and its hard to see it all working.
I can hear you wait for the ‘but’ though and so here it is. While 100 streets certainly tells some engaging and satisfying storylines, the end result is one that underwhelms. While all the storylines may make for a satisfying conclusion, there is an underlying sense of pointlessness to it as the shortened stories feel a little rushed and some of the characters completely underutilized. At the same token, while the different tone of each story makes for a more diverse viewing experience, their lack of connectedness also makes them feel a little unnecessary. In the end, the film is a victim of its own success as while it tries hard to avoid the pitfalls of its genre, it ends up falling for them in different ways.
Still, if you’re in the mood for an emotional ride that features some great performances, 100 Streets can certainly provide that entertainment without needing you to invest too much into its characters and think hard about it afterwards.
Last Updated: February 6, 2018