Gary Oldman’s semi-autobiographical debut directorial feature is harrowing, unflinching and important in style and in substance. Of the same vintage as Trainspotting, this is an altogether dirtier and scarier picture of drug and human abuse, from the other end of Great Britain. While it didn’t quite capture the cult feeling of a generation or go on to soundtrack and style a decade in the way that Danny Boyle’s breakout piece did, it is easily as significant and is pretty much the film that gave us Ray Winstone.
An original soundtrack from Eric Clapton should be enough on its own to make this worthwhile, but Winstone and Kathy Burke – who picked up Best Actress at Cannes – are excruciatingly tragic in extraordinary performances. Not one for the faint hearted - I don’t know who’s scarier, Ray or Bigby – this is essential British cinema.