The idea that music can have a huge influence on someones life isn’t a new one, but is perhaps one that isn’t really touched upon in the movie world. Music is magical, it can completely change your mood and perhaps even take you down a completely different path then the one that you imagined taking. For teenager Shay Baker (Daniel Huttlestone), a gift of a cassette of music by The Clash transforms his life and makes him realise that he is in charge of his life and that he can escape the troubles of his broken home.
Set in 1970’s London, this easy watching film fits a lot into it’s short 90 minute running time. The action revolves around fourteen year old Shay who has to grow up quickly when he is left to care for his little sister Alice (Anya Mckenna-Bruce) whilst a newly discovered love for punk music takes over his life when he meets the free-spirited Vivian (Nell Williams). The movie may be packed with music, and dramatic scenes of the troubles between the groups with different political views, but at it’s heart, it’s a family drama. It’s about Shay discovering truths about himself, and taking control over the things that always troubled him, and the way in which those around him react to what he is doing with his life.
Perhaps best known for appearing as Gavroche in Tom Hooper’s movie adaptation of Les Miserables and Jack in the movie adaptation of Into The Woods, Daniel Huttlestone takes on a much more mature role here as Shay. He drives the action forwards whilst showcasing a lot of emotional depth. Shay is a well developed and complicated character; he has the issues of a normal teenager in the 70’s, starting to rebel against his parents and trying to get a girlfriend, all whilst dealing with much more adult problems of having to help with his sister and his father’s struggling business. I think that this movie truly shows off what Huttlestone can do in terms of his acting skill. We saw glimpses of this talent to pull at the heartstrings in his movie musical roles, but with Shay, he is able to prove that he can handle much more than being the cutesy kid. I am sure that he has a bright future ahead in the acting world.
As Vivian, Nell Williams impresses as the tearaway teenager that takes Shay under her way and becomes a big part of his life. Whilst she may come across as the bad girl, she’s good for Shay and the relationship between the two is believable and generally charming. Anya McKenna-Bruce proves herself to be a young talent to watch as Shay’s little sister Alice. Dougray Scott plays Shay and Alice’s father Nick, who truly only wants what is best for his kids, whilst Natascha McElhone plays their mother Sandrine, whose wild spirit struggles to fit home life. Johnathan Rhys Meyers plays Joe Strummer, the lead singer of The Clash, who becomes a huge force for action in Shay’s life.
The storyline covers a lot, but in a rather simple way. It’s predictable in places with several hints of upcoming plot points rather obviously pointed out rather early on. Whilst the characters are well developed and overall likable, the plot causes issues by stretching out some moments and rushing through others. It’s easy to like the characters, but the plot may disappoint in places, especially if you are a fan of The Clash and think that it may focus more on them.
Overall, London Town is an easy watching film that is enjoyable enough. It may not be a huge standout, but you can’t deny the talents of the cast, especially the young stars. It’s available to stream on Amazon, and it’s a pleasant enough escape for an hour and a half.