Pimp (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/05/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 84 mins

Disappointing, low-budget British drama that falls apart thanks to its ill-advised documentary conceit, a poorly written script and too many superfluous characters.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Robert Cavanah, Pimp stars, um, Robert Cavanah as Woody, a low-level Soho pimp who has somehow agreed to allow a documentary crew to follow him around while he goes about his daily pimping duties. Pressured by his flamboyant gangster boss Stanley (Danny Dyer), Woody attempts to solve the disappearance of a Ukrainian hooker while ensuring that his favourite prostitute Bo (Gemma Chan) doesn't fall into the hands of the Chinese Mafia.

The Good
Cavanah's astute use of Soho locations adds a layer of sleazy authenticity to proceedings, to the point where you wish you were watching an actual documentary about the Soho sex trade rather than the nonsense that follows. As for the performances, Dyer is hardly in it (despite his prominent presence on the poster) and doesn't exactly stretch himself, while Cavanah makes a decent enough lead, even if it's occasionally hard to escape the feeling that he's only interested in directing in order to boost his acting career.

To be fair, the film does have a couple of good moments – there's a good running gag about the documentary crew never stepping in when Woody gets beaten up (which happens a lot) and there's enjoyable support from Martin Compston and Scarlett Johnson as a pair of enthusiastic pornographers (ex-EastEnders actress Johnson even gets in a quick EastEnders gag).

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that its central documentary conceit never really works; indeed, its only real payoff is the aforementioned running gag. Similarly, there are far too many superfluous supporting characters, which leads to the sneaking suspicion that Cavanah is basically just casting all his struggling actor mates.

The film's also let down by some unconvincing dialogue (particularly as it's meant to be a documentary), while the script eventually degenerates into what is obviously supposed to be a shocking plot twist, but is actually something of a cliche and will be depressingly familiar to connoisseurs of sleazy underworld-set thrillers.

Worth seeing?
Pimp has the occasional good moment but it's ultimately brought down by the failure of its central documentary conceit, since you can't help wondering if it would have worked better as a straight-up thriller.

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Pimp (18)
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Content updated: 13/12/2017 12:55

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