Theatrical release poster.
|Directed by||Ben Drew|
|Produced by||Atif Ghani|
|Written by||Ben Drew|
Ryan De La Cruz
Saleh Ahmed Nathalie Press
|Music by||Plan B
|Edited by||David Freeman
|Distributed by||Revolver Entertainment|
|Box office||£453,570 (UK)|
Ill Manors (stylised as ill Manors) is a British crime drama film written, co-scored and directed by Ben Drew. The film revolves around the lives of eight main characters, played by Riz Ahmed, Ed Skrein, Keith Coggins, Lee Allen, Nick Sagar, Ryan De La Cruz, Anouska Mond and Natalie Press, and features six original songs by Plan B, which act as a narration for the film. Ill Manors is a multi-character story, set over the course of seven days, a scenario where everyone is fighting for respect. The film focuses on eight core characters, and their circles of violence, as they struggle to survive on the streets. Each story is also represented by a different rap song performed by Plan B.
Set in Forest Gate, London, the film begins with partners Ed (Ed Skrein) and Aaron (Riz Ahmed) drug-dealing. Undercover police chase the two to a closed gate – Aaron manages to climb over and Ed hands his phone over to let Aaron take care of it. Before Ed can climb over, he is caught and sent to jail. Aaron takes the phone to Kirby (Keith Coggins), a well-known drug dealer across the area who has recently come out of prison, who keeps Ed's phone at his house. The song "Drug Dealer" leads the flashback story of Kirby and a man named Chris (Lee Allen), who was Kirby's protégé in the drug business, however, he is now independent. As Kirby collects the drugs from Chris to sell, he encounters Marcel (Nick Sagar), who is caught selling on Kirby's "turf". He decides to make Marcel strip and he runs off, naked. Aaron, waiting for Ed, is given a letter by his old social worker, and is dismissive in opening it. Meanwhile, Ed is released from prison and meets up with Aaron, telling Ed that his phone has been taken but knows who has it.
At the local park, various gangs of youths gather. A young teenage boy Jake (Ryan De La Cruz) meets his friend and borrows some money to purchase weed off Marcel, a youth drug-dealer who is the leader of a gang. Jake then proceeds to go up to the gang to purchase some weed. Marcel firsts steals the money, before asking Jake to beat up his friend for the weed, primarily due to his appearance and unfamiliar status. Jake reluctantly beats him up whilst the gang go over and record the scene. Marcel watches from afar and invites the vulnerable Jake to join his gang. Their activities when Jake joins the gang are recorded on a mobile phone such as partying and driving around. The gang then enter an abandoned building where a man is tied up for not paying Marcel his drug money. The man is threatened and is released when his cousin delivers the money. The song "Playing with Fire" represents the story.
Kirby encounters Jody (Eloise Smyth) and Chanel (Sasha Gamble) at a café and tells Chanel that he can introduce her to his friend Nigel, who is part of a modelling agency. The gullible Chanel does not realise it is a lie, and so takes his number. Jody does not believe Kirby but decides to support Chanel anyway and decides to go with Chanel to meet Nigel.
Ed and Aaron find Michelle (Anouska Mond), a drug addict and prostitute who was sexually-abused as a child. She is accused of taking Ed's phone (as she steals mobile phones to support her habit) and attempts to find it. Michelle offers to go to fast-food shops where the employees pay £20 or less to have sex with her, whilst Ed keeps the money – represented by the song "Deepest Shame".
As Jake has now passed the initiation in proving his loyalty, Marcel manipulates him into killing Kirby to get revenge for Kirby forcing him to strip earlier. In the house, Jody and Chanel have arrived – Kirby promises that Nigel shall be arriving shortly.
Terry (Neil Large), a local resident who knows Kirby visits whilst the girls are there. Terry finds Ed's phone under Kirby's sofa and goes to return it, thinking Ed has his phone. Aaron feels sympathetic towards Michelle, as it is revealed that she never had the phone at all. However, when Terry turns up expecting his phone, Ed blames Michelle of taking Terry's phone and proceeds to beat her. Aaron is warned by Ed but he manages to take the money made from Michelle's prostitution and pays Terry to leave her alone. Aaron and Ed leave and watch from a distance as despite Aaron's kindness, Michelle continues with prostitution.
Meanwhile, Marcel and Jake are in the car outside Kirby's terrace house. He is told to take the gun from the glovebox (after much refusal) and go inside and kill Kirby. He then enters the room (wearing a balaclava) and shoots Kirby in the head, whilst accidentally murdering Chanel in the process, leaving a shocked Jody crying over the body. However, Chanel happens to be Chris's half-sister. Terry then returns finds the two dead bodies (Jody had left) and decides to take the bag of drugs that Kirby got off Chris, left beside the sofa.
Aaron is at the Earl of Essex pub and is interrogated by the landlord about selling drugs in the pub; as this happens, Chris enters the public toilets. The song "Pity the Plight" explains how Jody leads Chris to Terry's garage to gain information on the killer of his sister. One of the workers at Terry's garage says that Marcel could be responsible, as Kirby made Marcel strip earlier. Chris enters Marcel's residence with a gun and interrogates him, before Marcel tells Chris it was Jake who killed Chanel, inevitably setting Jake up to save himself. Chris and Marcel pick up Jake who sneaks out and a stand-off occurs with the three by a canal where Chris tells Jake to stab Marcel, revealing that Marcel set him up. Jake loses his temper and stabs Marcel, subsequently killing him, while Chris shoots Jake. The scene where Chris enters the pub bathroom is repeated, showing Chris hiding the gun in a bathroom cubicle water-tank after he flees from the murder scene. The following morning, Chris goes to retrieve the gun but it has already been taken.
Before the next story is introduced, it shows Aaron who had found the gun from the pub. In the next story, the protagonist is a woman called Katya (Nathalie Press), a European immigrant who was raped by Vladimir (Mem Ferda), the owner of a whore house. She gave birth to a baby girl and finds it difficult to survive. The song "The Runaway" shows how Katya escapes the Russian whore house when the owner mixes vodka with heart pills and passes out. She then escapes with her baby into London. There she performs prostitution and steals food to survive. Looking for somewhere to crash for the night, she meets Michelle. Michelle realises the slim chances the baby will have and takes Katya under her wing. Meanwhile, the Russian gangsters are looking for Katya and she goes to the train station and while Aaron is alone on the train, the doors open and Katya leaves her baby in the buggy on the train, as she can see that the gangsters are about to catch her. Aaron bangs on the window in an attempt to gain Katya's attention. After his failed attempts to return the pram to the mother, he sees police at the upcoming station. Aaron hides his gun and drugs inside the pram and the baby's nappy respectively, and walks past the police without any problems, he then takes it upon himself to look after the baby, even though he is mocked by Ed. He then looks after the baby at his flat, talking with Jody about what to do. As the Russian gangsters have found Katya, a time where Michelle is distracted, she sees the car leave off, but she jumps in a cab just in time and orders the driver to follow them back to the whore house. As Vladimir is beating Katya, Michelle sneaks up behind him with a brick and hits him on the head with it. The two women run back into the cab, and although Vladimir attempts to chase them, they get away.
Ed convinces Aaron to sell the baby to the owners of the Earl of Essex pub for £8000, as the wife of the owner cannot have any of her own. Later, Katya and Michelle find Aaron who explains that he's given the baby away. Meanwhile, Ed is held at knifepoint by Chris who wants the gun back that Aaron has taken. Ed promises that he'll get it back within two hours. At the pub, the owners are reluctant to give away the baby and demand a full refund (not just Aaron's half of the money). After Michelle lashes out at the pub owners, she reveals that she had sex with Vince. After Vince's wife realises that her husband slept with Michelle, she proceeds to slaps her and the two begin to engage in a fight. Upstairs, Terry falls unconscious after leaving an electric heater near his bed, accidentally setting fire to the pub. The baby is still upstairs crying. Katya goes after her child but passes out due to the smoke. Aaron goes upstairs and saves Katya, but leaves the gun upstairs. Ed goes up for the gun, and before he leaves, decides to go back for the baby too. As the pub falls apart around him, he decides drops the baby out of the window for Aaron to catch below in front of a shocked audience. Aaron successfully catches the baby, and Ed tries to escape the smoke-filled room as the fire brigade arrive. He climbs out of the window but slips and kills himself. Aaron then says to Katya and Michelle that he knows someone who can help them, and arrives at the home of his social worker. She allows Katya and Michelle to stay there, whilst Katya names her baby "Hope".
Aaron returns the gun to Chris, who asks Aaron to work for him. After Aaron refuses, he goes home and opens the letter from social services given to him at the start of the movie. It's a letter from his mother, and he learns that he was abandoned for his own safety as a child. He then speaks with Jody about Ed's funeral, deciding to use Ed's £4000 from the baby money to go towards it. The members of Marcel's gang are shown next to some graffiti reading "R.I.P. Marcel and little Jake". The boy Jake initially beat up is shown taking back his £20 off another boy, showing the effects of the previous actions from Jake and his gang. Chris gets pulled over by police, who find crack in the boot of his car, whilst other police arrest Vladmir and the others from the whorehouse, intertwined with images of the Olympic Park. Jody beats up April, who tried to run off with the funeral money. The final scene shows Aaron being driven in a taxi. He glances in the rear-view mirror and Plan B himself is the driver.
Prior to writing the script for Ill Manors, when Plan B was 21 years old, he had originally tried to begin production on another script he had written called Trigger, which was based on an incident where his home was raided by armed police. However, he was refused funding as he was an inexperienced director. To gain the necessary experience, Plan B wrote and directed his own short film Michelle in 2008 which was financed by himself with £4000 from the remaining recording advance from his record label and an inheritance from his grandfather. The short film, which starred Anouska Mond, Ed Skrein and Adam Deacon, was released online and acted as a pilot for the feature film Ill Manors, which Plan B had completed the script for within four months of making Michelle. He also directed the music video for "Pieces", his collaboration with Chase & Status, and also had roles in Adulthood (2008) and Harry Brown (2009). The script for Ill Manors was partly based on actual events and stories Plan B had heard when he was young, such as a woman prostituting herself in order to repay a drug dealer. The film had been in development for three years prior to filming, however Drew struggled to secure finance for his film. Ill Manors was greenlit for production in 2009 as part of the Film London Microwave scheme.
For the film, Plan B hired a mixture of both experienced and inexperienced actors, whilst several cast members already knew the director personally before they were cast in their roles. Riz Ahmed, who had previously recorded "Shifty" with Plan B, asked to play the lead role of Aaron after reading the script. Ed Skrein was a childhood friend of Plan B who had appeared in Michelle and had previously collaborated with him on numerous recordings. Keith Coggins is Plan B's godfather and Anouska Mond, who had also previously appeared in Plan B's short film was invited to audition for her previous role as Michelle. The main casting process for the film took place during August 2010 with several cast members being young unknown actors from the East End of London, such as Ryan De La Cruz who was discovered when the crew visited Rokeby School in Canning Town, London.
Principal photography began on 1 September 2010 at 3 Mills Studios, London and filming lasted for four weeks on location in London, England. Plan B has named the 1996 film Pusher directed by Nicolas Winding Refn as a major influence on Ill Manors, as well as directors Shane Meadows and Quentin Tarantino. During production of the film, it was reported that the cast and crew ran into trouble with youths in Forest Gate, London and production was interrupted whilst a laptop containing the film's dailies had to be recovered after being stolen by a drug addict. Drew claimed that he faced prejudice from some crew members whilst on set, however he also noted that "there was some people that really believed in my vision and gave me all the support I needed."
Editing of the film began in December 2010, however post-production of the film was delayed due to Plan B performing on The Defamation of Strickland Banks Tour during 2010 and 2011. To raise funds for the completion of the film's post-production, the distribution rights to Ill Manors were sold to Revolver Entertainment in April 2011 and Plan B delayed the release date of his planned third studio album The Ballad of Belmarsh until after Ill Manors was released.
The trailer for Ill Manors was first aired on The Guardian's website on 3 May 2012, whilst the first film poster was first unveiled by Empire magazine's website on 8 May 2012. Digital Spy also unveiled two further promotional posters on 18 May and 7 June 2012. The premiere took place on 30 May 2012 at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square, London. This screening was also attended by several British recording artists such as Alesha Dixon, Alexandra Burke, Professor Green, Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32, Example and Ed Sheeran. The film was given a wide release to 191 cinemas in both Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom by Revolver Entertainment on 6 June 2012. Ill Manors was released in the Netherlands on 30 August 2012 by Benelux Film Distributors and was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Festival do Rio in September 2012. Ill Manors was released on DVD on 8 October 2012, and contains footage that was not broadcast at cinemas.
On its opening weekend, the film placed at number nine at the UK Box Office, with a gross figure of £256,288. Domestically, the film has earned a total gross of £453,570, after eight weeks at the box office. Ill Manors has received largely positive reviews from critics and fans alike, with a current 79% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on twenty-five different reviews.
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