Small Time | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Small Time

Shane Meadows wrote and directed this sparkling hour-long 1996 feature about petty thieves in Nottingham and the women who love them. Jumbo (Meadows) wants his girlfriend to have sex with him on demand but to make herself scarce when he's with his friends, whether or not they're committing crimes. Malc (Mat Hand) must schedule his criminal activities around sharing the care of his children with their mother. A smooth yet frantic camera shows the two couples bickering and going about their business in garishly colored but otherwise sleepy settings, as Meadows combines the crude with the delicate, creating high-anxiety set pieces full of moments of distilled inspiration--a carefully crafted chaos that allows him to transform the easy irony of a robber pushing a shopping cart into something more poignant and funnier. Without actually laughing, I lost it when Malc attempts to conceal a large stash of stolen dog food cans in his living room by covering them with a blanket, then carefully placing two knickknacks on top. On the same program, Where's the Money Ronnie?, a mediocre 1995 short by Meadows. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Thursday, February 19, 6:00, 312-433-3737.

--Lisa Alspector

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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