Bigga Than Ben

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Review byMatthew Turner8/10/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Bigga Than Ben starts well and offers good performances from its two leads, but the story loses its way about halfway through and the end result is ultimately disappointing.

What's it all about?
Andrei Chadov and Ben Barnes play Spiker and Cobakka, two best friends and self-confessed Moscow scum, who come to London intending to make some fast cash. However, without documentation they find it much harder than they'd initially assumed and they both end up sleeping in a shed.

Eventually, the boys hook up with wheeler-dealer Artash (Ovidiu Matesan), who introduces them to the world of shoplifting, credit card fraud and mobile phone scams, for a hefty cut of their profits. However, after Spiker is dumped by his fiancee, he turns to heroin and the boys find their lives moving in different directions.

The Good
Ben Barnes is excellent as Cobakka, completely nailing the Russian accent and giving a convincing portrayal of a borderline down-and-out (the scene where they have to crap into plastic bags and chuck them out the window is both hilarious and disgusting). Chadov is equally good and the boys spark off each other well, creating a believable onscreen friendship.

The film starts well, with rapid editing, video diary style camerawork and witty narration that briefly recalls Eugene Hutz' terrific introduction in Everything is Illuminated. Similarly, the first half of the film contains some decent jokes and nice visual moments, such as Spiker spinning around in a shopping trolley.

The Bad
That said, the film never really engages on an emotional level and the characters' casual racism makes them hard to warm to, even if they do have their eyes opened along the way. Similarly, the film loses its focus about halfway through and never feels like it's heading anywhere, resulting in a disappointing climax.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is worth seeing for Ben Barnes' impressively grimy and authentic performance, but the plot never really goes anywhere and it fails to deliver the required emotional punch.

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Content updated: 24/09/2018 11:28

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