Review: The Score

Written and directed by Malachi Smyth, two small time crooks, Mike (Johnny Flynn) and Troy (Will Poulter), are on a mission, the ‘score’ that they both expect will transform their circumstances. At a roadside café, as they wait for a hand-over, Troy falls in love with the waitress, Gloria (Naomi Ackie), and begins to question his life choices, while the threat of real danger is driving to meet them. Also starring: Lydia Wilson, Roger Ashton-Griffiths and Lucian Msamati.

The first thing that’s going to hit you with this film is that it’s an unusual choice to include a musical element. It throws a unique aspect into what you’d probably otherwise think was going to play things within the stereotypical lines of small-time crime flicks. Now whether it’s an entirely successful aspect is going to depend on the viewer, as an inherent problem with having your characters sing is that it can come across insincere. It doesn’t fall entirely into that issue but at the same time it does offset The Score’s overall charm, which is a shame as it’s plenty strong on its own.

The simplicity of this story allows for the personalities and charisma of its characters to shine through and they’re hugely enjoyable to watch. It’s split between two stories, the present and the future, its key focus is on what’s happening in the moment, the journey rather than the destination. The end goal fits to add a great amount of tension, suspense and danger, it’s a clever choice that it doesn’t take over the entire atmosphere, it purely enhances it.

Malachi Smyth brings an interesting mix of styles to The Score, with a blend of modern and classic touches. Aesthetically it feels of today, there’s a good sharpness and crisp quality to the visual, as well as a few more stylistic choices to the direction in its finale which are very reminiscent of current cinema. However, when it comes to its atmosphere and the flow of the story, there’s a much more emotional, freewheeling style which throws back more to the 1960s. It creates an excellent balance of exploring the burgeoning love story and the building danger that faces our lovable lead Troy.

Played wonderfully by Will Poulter and creating the heart of this film alongside the terrific Naomi Ackie. The two of them have an instant and endearing chemistry which is utterly delightful to watch unfold. They capture extremely well the duality of the playful, flirty side and the fact that they both have a lot of baggage. Johnny Flynn is another piece of great casting here, he brings the emotional layers but at the same time the antagonistic, brutish nature which he does well and is not capitalised on enough. Lucian Msamati also makes a beautiful cameo which is such a lovely moment and Msamati has an effortlessly strong presence.

The Score is an unexpectedly charming romance which uses crime and danger to its advantage but keeps its heart in the right place. It has a great growing tension and suspense but simultaneously creates a hugely engaging relationship between Troy and Gloria. Will Poulter and Naomi Ackie both give superb performances and have endless chemistry, while Johnny Flynn balances that out with an intriguingly harsh attitude. It was a risk to take to throw in a musical element and it doesn’t feel as though it pays off, becoming more of a distraction when the film really doesn’t need it.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

In UK cinemas from 9 September

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