Shane Meadows’s first movie set the template for his more accomplished later work. Bob Hoskins excepting, Twenty Four Seven features a cast of largely non-professional actors, a liberal use of improvisation and a typically tragic-comic approach to realist drama. Set mostly in and around the working class midlands, Meadows’ films draws comparisons with exponents of the kitchen sink dramas of the British New Wave. But while Meadows belongs to a similar tradition to Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, he is also arguably closer to his subjects, having the empirical eye of a man who has lived the life firsthand.
For anyone who viewed Meadows’s later work first however, none of these factors stop Twenty Four Seven seeming really quite amateurish. While it is lovingly photographed in black and white by cinematographer Ashley Rowe, it is Meadows’s least accomplished work in terms of plot and character development. I was quite surprised by how weak this film was given that it made the directors’ name and became the launchpad for his career. There’s simply not enough depth to the characters to be moved by the consequences of their actions. Furthermore, Meadows’ use of a comtemporary indie soundtrack – another hallmark of his filmmaking – has never been lazier than here. A whole sequence of the film, dedicated to the supposed bonding of the key characters in the film on a trip to Wales, is a perfunctary montage of lame visual jokes set to The Charlatans. Very poor indeed.