High Heels and Low Lifes

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 11/09/01 04:35:57

"SpiceWorld taken to the next level"
3 stars (Just Average)

Like Beautiful Creatures, High Heels and Low Lifes is a sexy, stylish violent thriller that is decidedly English. Whereas Beautiful Creatures was more a straightforward gangster thriller, High Heels and Low Lifes is laced with that particular humour that has fueled the BBC since World War 2.

Maintaining composure while covered in cow shit with your car burning in the background is almost a scene from a Monty Python skit.

Set in London, the film stars Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack as two friends, Shannon and Frances, who get tied up in a blackmail scheme. Shannonís boyfriend is an urban sound sculptor who records random cell phone conversations for his sound collages. One night, Shannon and Frances come home drunk and overhear a conversation about a robbery in progress. Armed with a phone number, they begin a scheme to get paid off or they tell the police. The first drop gets bloody when the gangsters set up their defense to not give the girls a cent and they all get tangled deeper and deeper, raising the stakes as they go along until the final showdown with a predictable ending. Of course the girls pull it off but there are moments when it seems like theyíve lost the game, as youíd expect in any action/adventure script worth its salt.

The women have a few moments of interpersonal conflict but that doesnít lead to much character growth nor does it help to strengthen an already strong friendship. But those moments do add a little bit of realism to the process of relationship building among women and give us some beats to break up the action and ground the story into the space between these two women. Shannon, the more conservative of the two and a nurse, wants to use the money to help the hospital she works for while Mary wants to fund her rock and roll lifestyle. Shannon is apparently the dominant of the two because she canít imagine trading all that blood and violence simply for shallow excess and refuses to go along with the plan unless the money is put to humanitarian use as a way to redeem it. Like Yin and Yang, however, Shannon has a little bit of a yen for shallow excess in her just as Frances has a tiny compassionate streak.

Shannonís nursing comes in handy every time someone gets shot. She canít just walk away, but is compelled to stay and help and call the ambulance even for the gangsters.

Not only are the gangsters after the girls and the girls after the money, a couple of bumbling inspectors are trying to piece the case together to solve the robbery and keep getting reports of a blonde and brunette women at the scene of every auxiliary crime they tie into the original robbery. Through the trail of blood, the women appear and vanish like phantoms even as they sit right under the inspectors nose.

I guess the women could have just gone to the police and reported the crime, but as Frances points out, they have more to gain by simply blackmailing the gangsters. The hospital is give better care and the girls skim a bit off for their hard work.

The movie is fun to watch, unconventional and features my favorite, the poofter gangster, named Kerrigan. It isnít, however, a remarkable film but it has value as a genre-defying step away from the norm.

The film is full of Girl Power moments including unmercifully tossing out a boyfriend and playing a manís game to gain power and wealth, which isnít surprising, given that the writer, Kim Fuller (a man), also wrote SpiceWorld. You also get a different view of London, from the shops to the rapidly gentrifying East End with high priced lofts hiding behind seedy street fronts.

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