Written and directed by Rene van Pannevis, co-written by Kefi Chadwick, Rob lives his life at 100mph, carefully balancing carjacking schemes and caring for his dying father but one risky job could bring it all crashing down. Starring: Charley Palmer Rothwell, Thomas Turgoose, Tom Fisher, Morgane Polanski, Anders Hayward and Stephen Uppal.
This is another classic example of lost youth, people in their late teens and early twenties falling into very casual criminality to sustain their lifestyle but it’s not longed to last. Rothwell’s Rob is trapped between two worlds, being led further into crime by his best friend Leo (Turgoose) and caring for his terminally ill father (Fisher). It creates a very lad culture-esque atmosphere which is then balanced with the more complex, emotional nature of Rob’s relationship with his father, it sounds like a difficult balance but in fact the film creates a very consistent overall tone that manages to move in and out of both without feeling jarring or as if it’s clashing.
Rothwell’s performance as Rob is extremely tense and is filled to the brim with stress but he also brings through that hugely compassionate and selfless side in caring for his father Oswald, that makes him very accessible. Fisher perfectly captures Oswald’s pain to an almost uncomfortable level, he gives a very physical performance even considering he’s confined to a bed for almost all of it, he may not say too much but it’s plenty to infer the complicated relationship between him and his son. Polanski gives a great performance as Kasia, she provides a middle ground between worlds and a sympathetic ear, it’s a shame there isn’t really an opportunity to get to know her character more but she’s extremely likable and gives a friendlier edge to the film. Turgoose gives a solid performance but sadly it simply feels like he’s giving us the same thing that we’ve seen from him time and time again, it doesn’t have anything new to add so lessens the impact of his character, who isn’t very strong to begin with.
It’s unfortunately a continued problem throughout the film of not enough power to their story, it ticks the right boxes but it doesn’t land with the full emotional impact that it had the potential for. It doesn’t lean into a more gritty, dark tone but it also doesn’t feel as though it goes all in on its emotional story, it lands somewhere in the middle. It’s a shame as everything is working, the direction and cinematography are well done, and the editing certainly feeds into the tone and atmosphere that the writing creates but it can’t quite hit the target. It potentially needed a larger threat or element of danger to really bring the emotion through with a bang, its lack of score similarly could have been altered to bring out more feeling with its dialogue.
Looted is a well-made film with the right intentions but doesn’t have enough conviction to really hammer home its emotional story, it needed a bigger spark or personality to push things a little further to fulfil its potential. There’s a great ensemble of performances from Rothwell, Fisher, Polanski and Turgoose and the younger three make a great rag-tag bunch of petty criminals but they aren’t quite given the opportunity to really dig deep and bring out more undeniably evocative emotions. It’s important for working class stories to not be lost in British cinema and while this film could have achieved more, it’s telling a story that not many others are, it’s following relatable struggles and a reality of simply doing your best with what you have.