Live East Die Young

So you’re a model on East London’s fashion scene. What are you going to do with your spare time? Why, blow everything on drugs, binge drinking and sex, of course! At least, that’s the route the protagonists of Live East Die Young, directed by Laura Hypponen, have chosen to take.

The film follows Emma (Zoe Grisedale) and her stylist Max (James Jeanette Main) as their lives go precisely nowhere. Emma’s just broken up with her boyfriend, collapses on a photoshoot, and the only person who seems to be taking a blind bit of notice of her is the morally-questionable Teddy (Lewis Grolle), who’s sniffing around looking for dirt to put in his upcoming autobiography of her. All that’s fine, of course, until they befriend photographer Alicja (Jasmine Polak) and Max starts taking an interest in Teddy… Things swiftly spiral out of control. Well, further out of control.

This one’s not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure – a few more conservative members of the audience at the screening I went to weren’t quite prepared for some of the more explicit scenes – there’s a lot of nudity, and more than a little drug-taking. There’s also a generous helping of sex – including some unnecessarily graphic stuff near the end, in my opinion – and one could be forgiven for thinking that maybe there’s more shock than substance to this particular piece. That would be a little unfair.

There are a lot of really interesting issues touched upon in Live East Die Young – the pressures of success, and indeed lack thereof, in youth; peer pressure; sexuality; responsibility – but do note the phrasing there, as it feels as if most of these themes are barely touched on before the action goes in a different direction. While there’s the beginning of a whole subplot formed around George, Teddy’s son, being introduced to the idea of transvestites, it’s never really resolved… and the lack of resolution is something it’s wise to get used to early on in this film.

Decorations in Dinard

The narrative is quite choppy and time doesn’t seem to work quite as it does in the real world, but personally I felt that was a nice effect. Long establishing shots combined with seemingly random time jumps and drawn-out dialogue give a general effect of disorientation and confusion which seems to coincide nicely with the characters’ experience of life. It can be jarring at times, however – such as when time suddenly jumps forward two years and the audience is left playing catch-up. We start following Emma’s story but by the end of the film the main point of interest is definitely Max. The main thing that bothers me about this is that neither of those stories are really resolved in a satisfactory manner by the end of the film – we’re distanced from Emma and when the credits roll Max still has the audience thinking ‘What?’.

I suppose really, what I came away from this film with was the persistent, nagging feeling that you can’t trust anyone – something the characters come to realise throughout the course of the story. This film is enough to knock you for six – I’d planned to race straight to another screening after Live East Die Young, but found myself having to sit down and really think about what I’d just seen. And then endeavour not to think about it for a bit. And then think about it some more. Unlike some of the other films I watched at the festival, it’s not a film that’s easily processed; it is certainly thought-provoking. I’m just not sure what the thoughts were that it was supposed to provoke.

It’s not a comfortable film; it doesn’t have you leaving the cinema with warm fuzzy feelings in your belly – quite the opposite, actually – but if you’re not looking for comfort and happiness, this could be a good film for you. If nothing else, Max in particular has some incredible costumes, and George Mowlam puts in a convincing performance as George. For general viewing, though, I’d advise finding something a little less challenging when you choose the film for your Saturday afternoon cinema trip.

I’d give this 2 out of 5.

Eleanor Musgrove (wishes she could pull off half the outfits these people do)

This review is of a film seen at Festival du Film Britannique du Dinard, 2012. The film was in the competition.

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7 Responses to Live East Die Young

  1. anonymous says:

    vile waste of time, stupid people, stupid premise……………

    • We’re sorry you feel that way; we felt the film did have its merits, although it may not have been our favourite.
      We’d also like to remind you that constructive criticism is always preferable, and we’d rather you didn’t dismiss entire groups of people who’ve worked hard on a project as ‘stupid’.
      Thanks for getting in touch; we hope you’ll enjoy some of our other reviews. -Ed.

      • anonymous says:

        my darling, this was not meant as a personal insult……….plenty of people work hard, however, hard work does not equal labor or a message that impacts most people……the entire film has limited audience and that is that, plenty of people do the sex for shock thing……would have been so much better with less sex and perhaps some character development which made viewers give a bit of thought to the characters……….here, why should anyone care

      • That’s a much more constructive comment, thank you. Rest assured nobody in the office was offended, but we did wince a little on behalf of the people involved in making the film!
        Thanks again for getting in touch, we love hearing your views on things. -Ed.

  2. perry says:

    Brilliant article. You summed up so well the contradictions and paradoxes that made it so hard for me to describe this film. It made such an impact on me and stays with me still, not something you can readily say about the never endingly churned out linear unimaginative pap we are constantly exposed to. I loved the cutting, the spaces, the thankful lack of background musak, the visually mesmerising prescence and movement of Zoe Grisedale. Set for cult and mainstream success and we saw it’s premiere.

  3. anonymous says:

    Firstly Ed, let me congratulate you on your very enthusiastic and timely responses to any comments. Dare I ask what role you played in this film? Or are you just dealing with online things now? Although again, this film not my personal taste, my opinion is DEFINITELY that it should be placed in the independent and cultish festivals and marketing campaigns. This is not going to go mainstream, maybe in UK but nowhere else. Not an insult meant but just that this is a perspective on a culture and lifestyle that most people would not understand or relate to unless they are been part of, or aware of even if they do not partake. To bring it further to the forefront, market it with the message or intent of actually making the film. Is it a lesson for today’s youth? Is it a commentary on a culture where people feel like they have no options? To discuss it and market it that way would make an impact. To just have it out there as is, I am afraid , and I may be wrong, it is just going to remain stagnant. Get interviews with papers, radio or whatever where an intent or point of view is conveyed. This is the main problem with it but you can fix it. Use it to take a stance. Again, just an opinion and perhaps incorrect but what is art of any kind about if you are not making a commentary regarding the world in which we live today.

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