This was Richard Jobson's directorial debut and it is a very stylish effort. Clearly, the subject matter is not entirely original - outstanding films have been made on the subject of alcoholism from The Lost Weekend through to My Name Is Joe. But Jobson's effort is a worthwhile entry into this pantheon and he elicits great performances from his actors including Kevin McKidd in the lead role with support from Laura Fraser, Susan Lynch and Lewis MacLeod. The film has a number of resemblances for me, notably with the aforementioned My Name Is Joe, but probably more obviously A Clockwork Orange and Gillies MacKinnon's masterpiece Small Faces (in which both McKidd and Fraser gave early impressive performances). Some of the pub singing sequences are also reminiscent of Terence Davies.
However, despite such influences Jobson brings his own particular brand, or mix, of realism and dreamlike quality to the piece, underpinned by a great music score, and (for me) is entirely convincing. Laura Fraser provides a typically stalwart performance as the music store salesperson with whom McKidd becomes infatuated, and Susan Lynch is outstanding as the alcoholics' circle companion trying to wean McKidd off his obsession with alcohol (and violence).
This is just the sort of British film that should receive much greater exposure/promotion on release, instead of the very limited release it was given. Sadly, I don't believe that Jobson has matched this sterling effort in his subsequent films, most appear to have disappeared without trace and New Town Killers (which I did see), whilst an interesting idea (in effect a foretelling of the current global financial crisis!), was not as impressive as this debut.