Shane Meadows (Small Time & Where's the Money Ronnie, both MIFF 1997) once again proves himself one of Britain's most intriguing visual poets with this thoroughly engaging movie about English childhood. At once insightful and inspirational, Meadows reminds us that it's possible to make extraordinary movies about very ordinary people. Romeo and Gavin have been best mates and neighbours for years. The tough Romeo's personality balances that of the more introspective Gavin. Both have a passion for boyish adventure and a wacky sense of humour but, either physically or mentally, are troubled by absent fathers. When the flamboyant Morell enters their lives, he fills a void. A man who embellishes his boring existence with wildly fantastical storytelling, Morell saves the lads from a street fight and then captivates their attention. Hanging out with the older man it becomes apparent that there is a more sinister side to his personality. It is Romeo who spends more time with the increasingly eccentric Morell, a situation that stretches his friendships to crisis point. With a typically brilliant performance by Bob Hoskins and a soundtrack that includes Beck, The Stone Roses, Billy Bragg and The Specials, this is exceptional filmmaking.