Updated: Jul 29
Two creative but impressionable kids hatch a plan to purchase their first packet of cigarettes, whilst clinging on to their prized possession; an impossible-to-get shiny gold football sticker.
Taking a step back from the heavy subject matter of his previous films (A Girl and her Gun, Sunday Worship and Hungry Joe to name a few) writer/director Paul Holbrook and co-writer Graeme Willetts, deliver a nostalgic, organically funny and at times touching coming of age story. Shiney follows precocious kids Kayleigh (Katie Francis) and Ant (Caleb Stevens) as they embark on a mission to impress the older kids in their neighbourhood by illegally scoring cigarettes from the local newsagent.
From the opening shots, Holbrook introduces us to the kind of council estate that we have seen portrayed many times, but with a wistfulness and fondness all too rarely applied to these kinds of neighbourhoods. Colours pop on the bright summer day in which Kayleigh and Ant’s adventures play out and this is reflected in Kayleigh and Ant themselves, played by two young actors striking a perfect balance of mischievousness and likeability. Without dragging its feet, the film takes the time it needs to fully introduce us to our protagonists, not hiding their flaws but simultaneously getting us to invest in their mission.
Like the film Hungry Joe, atmosphere is almost a character in itself with this film. Everything from the streets to the parks to the newsagents are presented with the same vibrance and energy as the characters within them. Whether bathing the scenes in a gold colour palette or using ethereal lighting in key moments (particularly when Kayleigh obtains a valuable football card, the titular Shiney), we are continuously drawn into a world equal parts real and fun.
Despite the cigarette-driven hijinks and trouble caused by these two impossible to like and impossible not to love kids, Shiney resolves itself to telling the stories of misfits who have to learn to love the things about them that make them unique instead of forcing themselves into roles that don’t suit them. There is a ton of heart on display as Kayleigh and Ant learn struggle to accept friendship where they find it and work to be worthy of it. An appearance by Coronation Street’s Bruce Jones is also a welcome addition to the line-up of oddball but familiar characters that makes watching this film so much fun.
An upbeat and catchy score alongside freestyle rap, combined with genuine laughs and a solid character-driven story, make Shiney well worthy of a place on your watchlist.
Check out our podcast review below:
Studio: Shunk Films | Year: 2020 | Genre: Comedy | Duration: 15 Mins | Suitability: Mature - Use of language
Cast: Katie Francis, Caleb Stevens, Bruce Jones, Toby Wright Crew: Director: Paul Holbrook | Producers: Alice Cabanas, Sam Dawe, Paul Holbrook, Graeme Willetts, Camilla Stoppani | Writers: Graeme Willetts & Paul Holbrook