The Wee Man (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/01/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 102 mins

The Wee Man features typically strong performances from Martin Compston and Stephen McCole as well as some crisp-looking cinematography, but it never really sparks to life, thanks to a repetitive script and a frustrating lack of characterisation.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ray Burdis (Love, Honour and Obey), The Wee Man is based on the true story of notorious Glasgow gangster Paul Ferris. Growing up as the victim of local bullies, young Paul (newcomer Daniel Kerr, then Martin Compston) eventually snaps and strikes back, discovering a taste for violence in the process. This, in turn, brings him to the attention of local godfather Arthur Thompson (Patrick Bergin), who takes Paul under his wing and makes him one of his most trusted lieutenants.

However, Arthur's cokehead son Junior Thompson becomes increasingly jealous of Paul and scheming gangland rival Tam McGraw (John Hannah) exploits Junior's jealousy in order to destroy Arthur's empire. Soon Paul finds himself framed for attempted murder as a vicious gangland war erupts around him.

The Good
Martin Compston delivers a typically strong performance as Paul, but he's hampered by a script that leaves the character with hardly anywhere interesting to go; as a result, his best moment comes early on as, thrilled by his first act of violence, he realises the direction his life is about to take, despite the counselling of his kind-hearted, non-violent father (Denis Lawson). There's also solid support from both Stephen McCole and Patrick Bergin, but John Hannah is badly miscast and all the other characters are either frustratingly underwritten or badly underused (most notably Lawson, Rita Tushingham as Arthur's wife and Laura McMonagle as Paul's long-suffering girlfriend).

In addition, Ali Asad's crisp cinematography gives the film an effectively slick look that belies the film's relatively low budget, though the location work is largely generic as a result of London standing in for Glasgow.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the script quickly becomes repetitive, with gangland hits occurring left, right and centre; the problem is that since the script doesn't bother to develop any characters outside of Paul, Arthur, Junior and Tam, it's impossible to invest in what's happening on screen, to the point where you have to pay close attention to even work out who's being taken out at any given time.

On top of that, it's difficult to emotionally invest in Paul himself, since he is, at heart, a violent gangster; indeed, his decision to leave the life of crime behind only comes when he realises he has no-one left. To that end, it's a shame the film doesn't spend more time on Paul's life as a child, since Daniel Kerr delivers a likeable and engaging performance that pretty much deserves its own film.

Worth seeing?
In short, despite a handful of strong performances, The Wee Man is something of a disappointment thanks to a repetitive script that fails to adequately flesh out the supporting characters and lacks both dramatic and emotional impact as a result.

Film Trailer

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Content updated: 20/07/2018 19:15

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