Borrowed Time (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/09/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 86 mins

Engaging British drama enlivened by a decent script and a pair of strong performances from veteran Philip Davis and newcomer Theo Barklem-Biggs, though the tone falters a little when it comes to the poorly sketched supporting characters.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jules Bishop, Borrowed Time stars Theo Barklem-Biggs as Kevin, a feckless East London teenager who's desperate to retrieve a clock that he stole from his sister (Juliet Oldfield) and sold to a pawnbroker for some easy cash. When local drug dealer 'Ninja' Nigel (Warren Brown) gives him some weed to sell, Kevin thinks his money problems are solved, but he gets ripped off by an unconvincing Rasta (Hammed Animashaun) and ends up in debt to Nigel.

In desperation, Kevin decides to burgle the house of curmudgeonly pensioner and taxidermy enthusiast Philip (Philip Davis), but his plan goes horribly wrong when the old man catches him in the act and threatens him with a blunderbuss. However, despite this less-than-ideal first meeting, Philip takes pity on Kevin and helps him hide from Nigel while the pair attempt to find a solution to the boy's problems.

The Good
With his perpetually sulky-looking face (he's described in Borrowed Time as looking ‘pasty and a bit like Gollum’), Theo Barklem-Biggs is a real find as Kevin and he sparks likeable chemistry with Philip Davis, while managing to suggest the sense of something decent being brought to the surface as a result of their burgeoning friendship. Davis, in turn, is predictably excellent and he's clearly enjoying himself throughout, especially when he gets to deliver an amusing series of Dirty Harry-inspired one-liners like ‘Go ahead, punk – make my tea’.

Bishop's script does a good job of making the central friendship believable and Borrowed Time is packed full of nice little character touches that work well; it also gets in a few well-aimed swipes at 'Broken Britain', as it's hard not to sympathise with Kevin's obvious lack of opportunities. The film also benefits from some authentic East London location work and a likeable score from Christopher Barnett.

The Bad
That said, Borrowed Time is less successful when it comes to the supporting characters; for example, Warren Brown's clownish and grating Nigel feels like he's from a different film and doesn't present a properly credible threat to Kevin, while the various gangs of street-talking kids that Kevin passes are less than convincing. On top of that, the resolution posed by the film seems a little too pat and fails to satisfy as a result.

Worth seeing?
With superb performances from Philip Davis and newcomer Theo Barklem-Biggs, Borrowed Time is an engaging and likeable low-budget British drama that suggests writer-director Jules Bishop could be a talent to watch.

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Content updated: 24/10/2017 12:06

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