City of Tiny Lights 

Directed by Pete Travis, and starring Riz Ahmed, Billie Piper and Roshan Seth

This British indie film premiered at TIFF last year but I was unable to make my schedule work to see it. I’d bought tickets and a good friend went in my place. She said it was great. I always wondered if she just said that to make me feel good. The reason I bought the tickets was because I am really enjoying Riz Ahmed lately, wanting to support his films, and Roshan Seth who plays his father in the film, well he’s solid in everything (Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala to name a few). With it out on Netflix now, I finally took the time to watch it.

Tommy Akhtar is a small time private eye living with his eccentric but ailing Dad in a row house in a working class neighbourhood of London. He’s approached by Melody, an attractive and seemingly successful prostitute of African decent, to look for her missing  Russian roommate Natasha who, you guessed it, is also a prostitute. One thing leads to another and Tommy finds the missing girl’s last client dead in a hotel room. The dead guy turns out to be the business partner of Tony’s friend from high school days, who is now a wealthy property developer. The dead guy was also donating money to the Islamic Youth Group in Tony’s neighbourhood. All roads leading to Tommy just seems a little too coincidental given the size of London, the number of people and what goes on in the city, but anyway.  That said, the story does a decent job weaving in the challenges of multi-culturalism, religious fanaticism and the gentrification of London’s working class neighbourhoods. There is also a tragic romance overlay plot that weaves throughout the film which some might find distracting, but I actually felt it added a layer of depth to the film that kept my interest. I never mind a little romance as long as its not too cheesy.  I will not go further about the story to spoil it for you.

Easy viewing but nothing to write home about. A bit cliched and like a stretched out TV crime drama, or several episodes stuck together. Riz Ahmed and Roshan Seth did not disappoint and I would love to see them play father and son again. Maybe this could work as a TV show? No these guys are made for film.

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