Jack Roth (“Rogue One“, “Brimstone“) is the exciting young star evoking a class war in this ferociously fun thriller from debut feature-filmmaker Joe Martin. If there’s anything to feel patriotic about after watching Us and Them, it’s in anticipation of what these two homegrown talents might do next.
It’s a rampant piece of entertainment with a serious, socioeconomic message that’s told with a steady hand and a wry little grin. At times the rhetoric that director and writer Martin is serving is so venomous it feels dangerous. Almost as if the scene where Danny (Roth) and his mates discuss a home invasion over a pint might inspire real life regulars to do the same. Or that Danny’s call to arms down the lense of a handheld might actually spout copycat attacks.
It’s the script I imagine Guardian columnist Owen Jones might write were he on crack.
The soundtrack is suitably angry. It kicks down the door with The Damned’s New Rose, deafening over the opening credits, and leaves half a dozen tracks from working class lyricists Sleaford Mods to stomp around the remainder of the score.
In stark contrast to the Notts colloquialisms – and signifying one of a number of inspirations from A Clockwork Orange – is a selection of classical music; the perfect accompaniment to Danny and his droogs’ home invasion and displays of ultraviolence.
Their victims are a family typical of the wealthiest top 1% of Britons. The socioeconomic gap is widening, says Danny. “For the first time, future generations stand to be worse off than their parents”. Articulately mad at the world and furious with bereavement, he hatches a desperate socialist’s plan to ignite a revolt.
Jack Roth stars in Us And Them
He looks every part the extremist leftist renegade: sporting a Harrington jacket, synonymous with mods and skinheads in the 1960s, and cherry red converse, the staple punk piece of footwear from the following decade. Wild eyed and often unsure whether he’s gone too far, the danger of Roth’s Danny is in his unpredictability.
His dad’s old boozer has become another ‘wanky’ drinking hole for the privileged. The likes of who pay a fiver for a beer he can’t even pronounce.
Overhearing a snooty pair on a first date he slams down his overpriced lager and retreats to the gents to gather himself. When he returns he finds them gone. He notices the girl has left her phone and pockets it, so beginning his wicked plan.
The events that unfold do so nonchronologically in wittily named sequences. Because, despite some genuinely horrifying scenes, this is as much a black comedy as it is a cold blooded thriller.
One scene involving a public school boy and a shed might lighten the tone a little too eagerly, but there are smart laughs to be had amid all the fire and fury.