Bermondsey Tales : Fall of the Roman Empire – REVIEW

Bermondsey Tales - an all star cast go all saarf Laahndon gangster!

The eclectic make-up of London’s boroughs is a gift to film makers though residents of Bermondsey Tales might not want the myth of South London gangsters perpetuated but they need not worry as writer – director Michael’s Head’s film is far more for character comedy than chaotic carnage.  The Roman Empire that falls here  is that of Henry Roman, head of a South London crime family indebted to Ishaaq (Adam Deacon) who is now calling in the large outstanding debt. It is an opening scene that sets the tone as Roman, bound to a chair, laughs in Ishtaaq’s face in much the same way as the public do when Meghan Markle tells them to call her Duchess, often the last word they’re thinking of calling her.

But it’s a leaping off point for a series of flashbacks with the film broken down into chapter headings that are proverbs as the film details the machinations and vengeful plotting that centres around Roman and his philandering brother Jimmy (Charlie Clapham) having taken over from their late father and into this is thrown Chloe (Maisie Smith) daughter to Charlie (David Schaal) along with a whole load of Roman’s associates that takes in a range of great actors that includes Alan Ford, Frank Harper, John Hannah, Vas Blackwood, Linda Robson and Gary Webster. All these actors deserve to be far bigger names having established themselves in high profile productions – who can forget Alan Ford as BrickTop in Snatch, Frank Harper was always the most convincingly terrifying gangster in ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’, and though only in a handful of scenes David Schaal made an indelible impression as Jay’s Dad in The InBetweeners. It’s the same for so many of the actors here.

Bermondsey Tales is indebted to Guy Ritchie’s gangster films and there are some brilliantly funny scenes in with the best being Frank Harper’s casual robbing of a jewellers and a night club scene, in a sort of nod to Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’, that’s played from two different points of view. It’s a scene that Daniel O’Reilly excels as Rabbit the chirpy cheeky chappie, a sort of extension of his Dapper Laughs persona.

It’s not perfect – the story flits back and fore a little too confusingly at times and there are several technical issues and though this focuses far more on the comedy never setting out to be a Rise of the Footsoldier clone the violence doesn’t convince. But that aside you’ve got to admire the ambition of a film made on such a budget with a cast of well known faces reminding just how good they are given the opportunity. With a background in theatre both as an actor and writer Bermondsey Tales proves an effective calling card for actor & writer Michael Head as director.

related feature : Craig Fairbrass talks ‘Rise of the Footsoldier Vengeance’

related feature : Making Guy Ritchie’s Gentlemen gentlemen……..

We charred to Daniel O’Reilly about the film……and Dapper Laughs too!

We chatted to David Schaal about the film ….and The Inbetweeners too…..

We chatted to writer-actor-director Michael Head about the making of the film…..

Here’s the Bermondsey Tales trailer….


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