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Looted: vroom with a view

Thomas Turgoose stars in expertly crafted drama that follows 20-somethings who scratch a living by stealing cars in post-industrial seaport

05 November, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Charlie Palmer Rothwell and Thomas Turgoose in Looted

LOOTED
Directed by Rene Van Pannevis
Certificate: 12a
☆☆☆☆

IN the trajectory of the career of Thomas Turgoose, this drama about two 20-somethings who scratch a living stealing cars feels like a very natural progression from his standout roles in the Shane Meadows films and series, This Is England, which brought him to public attention.

And what a presence he has.

Turgoose is unbelievably watchable, his simple command of a turn of phrase is at times devastating and at others hilarious. His natural movement and speech also seems to bring the something special out of his co-stars.

He has a flawless approach to the characters he inhabits – and as Leo, the scally of a sidekick to lead Rob (Charlie Palmer Rothwell), Turgoose brings a sense of both despair and humour to this expertly crafted drama.

Rob’s bedridden father Oswald (Tom Fisher) is slowly dying from asbestos poisoning.

A docker and seaman, he knows he is being slowly killed by industrial negligence – and his son is battling his anger at how his father has been chewed up and spat out.

With no real job prospects, the pair – with their friend Kasia (Morgane Polanski) – find it easier to use their talents as mechanics married with their barefaced cheek and don’t-care courage to steal cars and flog them to a dodgy garage that promises cash but sometimes pays with cheap jewellery for them to redeem at pawn shops.

The struggle to earn a living and the stresses it puts on their friendships adds extra tension, as does their petty crimes that garner no apparent big scores but leads them into increasingly risky circles.

Then, one day, when they are asked to nick a car to order from the docks his dad worked for, things take a more sinister turn.

The tensions between Rob and his relationships with Leo and Oswald are cranked up.

This all plays out in front of the landscape of a northern seaport – it was shot in Hartlepool – but lays off the grim clichés. Instead, guided by Turgoose, the realities of life in a post-industrial England are heartbreaking.

The film has a political undercurrent, asking the viewer quietly to consider why this type of struggle through life is necessary or acceptable, and why generations are sacrificed by international market forces that have no interest in an individual’s right to opportunity.

And with Turgoose, Fisher, Palmer Rothwell and Polanski captivating, Looted creates a well-rounded story of lives threatening to drown under pressures – but bobbing back up to the surface partly through their personal vitality, and the fact in this sink-or-swim world, they have no other choice.

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