INTERVIEW: Substance Over Style, Shane Meadows Returns with "Romeo Brass"
by Anthony Kaufman
(indieWIRE/10.30.00) -- Beginning with a critic's prize at Venice in 1997, Shane Meadows' debut film "TwentyFourSeven" garnered several awards on the international festival circuit, receiving acclaim for Meadow's direction, Paul Fraser's script, Ashley Rowe's elegant black and white cinematography, and Bob Hoskins's strong performance as an amateur boxing coach for a gang of reckless Midlands lads. The film screened at the New York Film Festival, along with Meadows' short, "Where's the Money, Ronnie?" and was distributed in the U.S. by October Films. It was the kind of attention that a first time filmmaker dreams about.
Then at this year's Edinburgh Film Festival, a surprising, subtle British coming-of-age drama called "A Room for Romeo Brass" premiered with little of the fanfare of "TwentyFourSeven." Gone were the cries of eureka, the calls of discovery -- because, after all, the film's proficiency was expected; "Romeo Brass" was directed by Shane Meadows.
Though the film will probably get less attention -- there's no cool black and white stock, no name actor buoying the movie from obscurity -- "Romeo Brass" is probably the better film. With genuine performances from youngsters Andrew Shim and Ben Marshall, Meadows captures this semi-autobiographical tale of growing up with assured, sensitive authenticity. There's nothing flashy here, just some great characters and performances, particular debuting actor Paddy Considine, who plays Morell, an endearing psycho. From the moment he swaggers on screen and speaks in his drawn-out donkey-like banter, Considine leaps off the screen -- just too damn real to be acting.
indieWIRE's Anthony Kaufman recently spoke with Meadows about the difference between his first and second movies, working-class British movies, and Considine, whom he calls "the most talented actor in our country right now." "A Room for Romeo Brass" opened last weekend in New York and Los Angeles via USA Films.
indieWIRE: I must confess, I like this movie more than "TwentyFourSeven."
Shane Meadows: So many people have said that. From a filmmaker's point of view, it's harder for me with this one, because it's about myself, so in a way, it's really nice to hear that response. Because when it's about your own life, you run the risk of dropping a real bullock, because what you think is important, other people might sit there and go,