The End (2004)
Critics Consensus: An eye-opening, if one-sided and reverential, talking-heads doc about London's "Wild East" candidly told by the hard men gangsters themselves.
No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
In this heart-wrenching documentary, five terminally ill hospice patients and their families share their feelings about death with candor, humor and dignity. Kirby Dick directed.
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Critic Reviews for The End
The film is a flavourful record of what is - as the interviewees are well aware - a vanishing culture, but it doesn't dig deep.
Inevitably, this is a sympathetic, one-sided film and its familiar perspective is a nostalgic, sometimes tiresome one that imagines a 'golden age' when grannies could leave their doors open at night.
A deliberately distressed and scratchy documentary of talking heads, sporting the same sinister techno score and added subtitles for non-cockneys.
The flesh-crawling thrill is that these stories about armed robberies, ghastly fights, and grisly murders are utterly compelling.
Intentionally or not, Nicola Collins's filmed interviews with various old-school East End geezers give us a fair idea of their sentimentality, paranoia, smugness and flashes of humour.
This is a disappointingly reverential exercise in East End mythologising that's too busy sucking up to its rheumily sentimental interviewees to spend enough time exploring the few interesting observations they do make.
Moodily shot on monochrome and accompanied by an industrial soundtrack, it already seems these hardmen belong to a different, rose-tinted era.
They're eloquent, witty and quietly terrifying, the glitchy visuals and chilly score undercutting the laughs with a tremendous sense of foreboding.
The End could be criticised for being one-sided (none of the victims get a look-in). But that's missing the point, for at heart it's really a portrait of a long-gone era. In all, it's the best British crime film in years.
Would you Adam and Eve it, the film is packed with notorious criminals including Victor Dark, a man living by the "code" of "helping old ladies across the road."
The film, a success on the festival circuit, has been described as "carving, visceral, right in your face... scary, gob-smacking". I merely concur, in case they know where I live.
This grainy documentary that lets the Cockney hard men brag about violence, honour codes and the changed East End. Director Collins appeared with her sister Teena in Guy Ritchie's Snatch. That explains a lot.
The second half of this most watchable debut sows a few doubts. The old sweats admit that prison has wasted half their lives, that they indeed "done wrong" and, in two cases, that God has saved them from themselves.
As well as being a candid portrayal of a bygone gangster life, The End's carving visceral edge and acute sense of storytelling gives it bags of rewatch value and quotability. A darn fine piece of work, The End deserves all its praises.
This is a well made, entertaining documentary that's easily the best of the recent handful of British gangster docs.
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