Bellman and True

Richard Loncraine


Got the trailer at last- and here is a review from the web...

Though it catalogues the particulars of an elaborate theft, Richard Loncraine's dark, riveting, offbeat gangster film is less about a robbery than about a man and boy who are unwittingly caught up in its machinations, and the ways in which this unlikely crisis binds them together.

The story begins with a computer systems engineer named Hiller (Bernard Hill) and his unnamed young stepson (Kieran O'Brien) as they move from one London hideout to another in hopes of avoiding gangsters, to whom Hiller is in debt for the sum of $:1,000. Why should they want him so badly? It develops that the baby-faced, mockingly sweet Salto (Richard Hope) and a sidekick aptly named Gort (Ken Bones) have decided to capitalize on Hiller's access to computer records about the funds contained in a particularly busy bank near Heathrow Airport. But Hiller, unbeknownst to these hoods, is well on his way to self-destruction anyway. He has been drinking, has lost his job and has been left by his wife, who wrote in lipstick on a mirror this goodbye message: ''Just boring.''

The hoods find Hiller useful all the same, and they incarcerate him and the boy in a once-grand, now-dilapidated building. Mr. Loncraine, who favors vertiginous overhead shots and unsettling angles, gives this place a dangerous, claustrophobic feeling, despite its cavernous rooms. As the plan drags on, the boy grows ever more restless playing with toys that don't hold his interest and contending with an irritable gangster baby sitter, while Hiller hones his mechanical skills.

Finally, the hoods begin to make more active use of Hiller. They send him into the bank to do reconnaissance, instructing him: ''Try not to behave like Michael Caine. Act natural.'' Hiller helps the ever-widening group of robbers to outsmart the bank's security system by staging one false alarm after another. Once the heist is set in motion, though, there are some inevitable surprises; the game turns deadly, and the gang must go on the run. Another of Mr. Loncraine's memorable images of maddening entrapment is the sight of the getaway car, a hardly inconspicuous gold Jaguar, ramming itself back and forth inside a small suburban alleyway because the driver has made a bad guess about its size.

''Bellman and True,'' which takes its title from the British song ''D'ye Ken John Peel'' and is based on a novel by Desmond Lowden, defies the conventions of bank heist stories in another way: it isn't about either money or encroaching doom. Though the story takes a bloody turn and the casualties run high, Hiller somehow flourishes in the midst of all this trouble. A defeated man as the story begins, an impatient and unhelpful companion to the young boy, he somehow discovers new reserves of canniness, self-respect and parental love. In the end, this is an unexpectedly upbeat and satisfying film, and its closing titles are a particularly appealing little surprise


Bellman and True