iLL Manors is the debut directorial feature length from Ben Drew, better known to the masses as Plan B. The film tells the story of an East London area where drug use and the criminal underworld live hand in hand.
As it stands, the film features some great editing and cinematography and for a first time director, Ben Drew does an amazing job. He, of course, uses his musical background in the soundtrack. The in your face title track ‘iLL Manors’ doesn’t make it til the end credits but the rest of the musical accompaniment isn’t there for the sake of it. It cleverly acts as ‘The Narrator’ moving the story along.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this film. It’s just there needs to be a bit more punch to it. If you’re looking at this genre, the banlieu films of France like La Haine and even Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood and Adulthood or Totsi, based in South Africa, have excelled already, leaving iLL Manors open to comparisons.
With these films, the viewer gains an empathy for the characters, even if we don’t particularly like them. With iLL Manors, the film meanders through several events which depict the surburb brilliantly, showing us the outside characters’ back stories. Drew tips an area here that many other film makers haven’t touched but the downside of all this is that we don’t connect with those who end up as our main characters. It’s not until later when Aaron (Riz Ahmed) shows some redeeming features that we connect with the character.
Saying that though, iLL Manors is a fine debut and is well worth a watch. Within the photography and editing, Drew has come up with some really clever ideas. Now that he has his first feature out of the way, your scribe is looking forward to the next visual adventure from Plan B.