County Lines Review
How do you persuade an untrustworthy 14-year-old to endure hell? It's easy to do it according to County Lines. The first time, Simon (Harris Dickinson) is brought for Tyler's (Conrad Khan) help when a schoolboy player swipes his chips. He then facilitates a day of truancy by buying his mark trainers, an ice cream burger, before throwing out some innocent, manipulative remarks about earning money to aid Mom. Khan's face is ablaze with multiple sensibilities. He is squinting at himself, monosyllabic, and self-conscious. He then becomes open and confident. The heart sinks for a tiny bird that believes he is expanding his wings, but is without realising that he's trapped in a web of tarantulas.
Conrad Khan is magnificent, giving a stunning performance that is brimming with internalised emotions.
Henry Blake's stunningly shot debut film is driven by a constant dread that occasionally is accompanied by scenes of terrifying degrading and squalor. In a crack-dealer's hideout, Tyler comes face-to-face with the disfigured wreckage of a woman who is crying to get her next fix prior to her dealer and partner exposes her to domestic violence. We see this through the eyes of his son and see how Tyler emulates the aggressive behavior of the men who control the world of drugs when he returns home to his home that is in disrepair and a worried family.
Conrad Khan is magnificent, giving a captivating performance that is brimming with internalized emotions. He makes every moment seem alive by the stakes of the situation that is affecting Tyler's heart as it begins to sink into increasingly obscure and dark places. In addition, Blake creates space for Ashley Madekwe to play the mother's awakening to the situation of her son. It's heartbreaking to watch, as, in the midst of the crying an unwavering resolve begins to develop within her. More than anything else it is a pleading film. The last intertitle informs that 10,000 boys even younger than 11, are being used as drug runners across the UK. While incredibly effective in bringing attention to the issue Blake's sledgehammer-style of storytelling is not easy to swallow.