Top Boy is a gritty drama that originally aired on channel 4, depicting life on the tough Summer Hill Estate. Comprising of four hour long episodes, it is one of the better attempts at 'urban cinema'.
Although still feeling a little cliched in places and suffering from weak acting from some of the supporting cast (and indeed some of the more important roles), the main characters are all seasoned actors now and their performances reflected this, feeling both real and effortless. Whether this is due the fact that they have a lot of experience when it comes to working on film sets, or of the life they portray, one can but wonder.
The film does well depicting the difficulties facing young kids growing up in tough urban environment, when faced with a lack of family and being left to fend for themselves. And although the first two episodes weren't the greatest thing ever made for TV, by the end of the third episode things had built nicely and you were left wanting to know how things would play out. The characters were real and three-dimensional, their dialogue (for the most part) pretty authentic, their stories, lives and predicaments believable.
Films that feel a bit like this, such as Adulthood and Kidulthood, all leave me feeling that they are cliched and unoriginal in their portrayal of inner city life; using the same old ideas and themes in their stories they often lack imagination and stick to the same old formula. They all feel a bit juvenile and as if they're aimed at late teens or twenties something, who are still young, naive, and unsure enough of themselves to buy into this culture - which indeed they probably are. For me, although Top Boy didn't fully escape the pitfalls of this type of film, it did feel like it was a huge step forward for the genre. One in the right direction towards an attempt to tell an intelligent, grown up story that didn't attempt to glamourise the lifestyle, but just simply show the politics of life on the street. This gets 6 or 7 out of 10 from me.