Best Laid Plans (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/02/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Watchable British drama with intriguing characters, some nice ideas and a terrific central performance from Stephen Graham, but the script occasionally feels inconsistent and it doesn't quite manage to bring the two halves of its story together.

What's it all about?
Directed by David Blair, Best Laid Plans is, as the title suggests (“The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglae”), loosely based on John Steinbeck's classic novel Of Mice and Men. Set in present day Nottingham, it stars Stephen Graham as Danny, a small-time crook who lives with his best friend Joseph (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a powerfully strong gentle giant who has severe learning difficulties and the mental age of a seven year old.

However, when Danny gets into trouble with local gangster Curtis (David O’Hara), he agrees to let Joseph enter an illegal cage-fighting ring in order to help pay off his debts. Meanwhile, Joseph tentatively begins a relationship with Isabel (Maxine Peake), who's also learning-impaired, while Danny unexpectedly finds love with local prostitute Lisa (Emma Stansfield).

The Good
Stephen Graham is excellent as Danny, generating strong chemistry with both Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Stansfield. Similarly, Akinnuoye-Agbaje delivers an impressively committed performance as Joseph, but his character is quite badly written and the script is often inconsistent, particularly in terms of just how much day-to-day care Joseph seems to need.

Despite the fact that the cage-fighting and Joseph's relationship with Isabel take up most of the screen time, it's Danny's affinity with Lisa that emerges as the most compelling storyline; their relationship is nicely written and superbly acted by both Graham and Stansfield (who's extremely good as a hard-edged character who gradually allows herself to be won over by Danny's genuine love). Their sex scenes are refreshingly well directed too.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it's frequently uneven: for example, Peake's character is frustratingly underwritten and their romance never quite convinces as a result. On top of that, the film tries to tell two very different stories (the Of Mice and Men style human drama on one hand and the gangster-ish cage fighting stuff on the other) and never quite manages to mesh them together in an engaging fashion.

Worth seeing?
Best Laid Plans is ultimately worth watching for the superb performances from Graham and Stansfield, but the uneven script means that some parts of the story are more successful than others.

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Content updated: 20/09/2018 23:54

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