Fierce love and hard drugs in London's East End

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Gillies MacKinnon has assembled a formidable body of work since 1991’s The Grass Arena, fashioning a succession of smartly compelling films from unfashionable and often confrontational material. His latest?set in West Ham?is no exception, although it’s not one of his best. The title refers to the love between single mother Mel (Molly Parker) and her son Paul (Harry Eden), as well as to the heroin that the former is using (provided by family friend and dealer David Wenham). The unbreakable lines of need connecting these three central characters give the film a strong, steady focus, although the bigger picture is baggy and unconvincing. An over-abundance of characters jostle for position within the tale (cops, care workers, grim grannies, teen addicts), while the action never settles down long enough for any strong emotions to take hold. The initial emotional force slowly dissipates as the film wears on, leaving you with the frustrating feeling that Pure is a powerful story poorly told.


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