Looted first published by EyeforFilm for its World Première at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2019
Rene Pannevis’ feature debut begins with one variety of wake and ends with another.
The first is the kind that trails behind a ship, seen from above as we hear Oswald (Tom Fisher) narrating how he was at sea thousands of miles away when he heard the news that his son Rob was born. “Home,” Oswald says, “I fucking hated home.” Now Oswald is stuck at home and Rob (Charley Palmer Rothwell), in his early twenties, has become well used to hearing his bedbound father’s endless yarns of maritime adventures abroad. For Oswald, the oceans where he worked as a merchant seaman were a place of endless romance, but as Oswald’s sole carer, Rob’s perspective is more jaundiced: for that work took his father away from him throughout his childhood, and is now taking him away again because of Oswald’s exposure to asbestos on the job – and the company and union to which Oswald has been so loyal over the decades now show no interest in compensating him for his terminal illness.
In the absence of his father, and in a town (Hartleypool, on the north-east coast of England) with few opportunities, “good lad” Rob has fallen under the spell of his peers, and has very recently been joining long-time friend Leo (Thomas Turgoose) and his girlfriend Kasia (Morgane Polanski) on car-jacking jobs. Despite misgivings about their underworld employer Amir (Daniel-John Williams), Rob eventually agrees to help steal a specific vehicle from the local docks, not least because Leo persuades him that it is an act of revenge against the company that betrayed his father. Things, however, will go wrong, leading to some painful home truths, and in the end that second wake.
Co-written with Kefi Chadwick, Pannevis’ Looted is all at once a localised crime drama, a tale of a difficult yet loving father-son relationship, an exploration of escapism’s price, and a social realist anatomisation of a community which, for all its sunny skies and harbour views, is otherwise limited in its prospects.
© Anton Bitel