When Paul (Alex Humes) is fired from his tedious office job and upsets his anxious girlfriend Kate (Heidi Agerholm Balle), he decides to take up running to get fit and pass the time whilst looking for new work. Sceptical that he is going to take his new hobby seriously, Kate insists that he spends time with obnoxious city-boy blowhard Adrian (Valmike Rampersad).
Exhausted by Adrian’s arrogance and avarice, Paul is more intrigued by mysterious runner John (Mark Arnold) that he keeps bumping in to (quite literally). John has a dislike of office workers and the Adrians of the city, and begins to change the way Paul sees himself and his desire for employment and acceptance by his friends…
Mile End is the debut from writer/director Graham Higgins and is a sort of psychosexual Fight Club set in East London. John is Paul’s Tyler Durden, inspiring minor flashes of civil and social disobedience against a greedy corporate enemy. The backdrop of the last five years of economic recession is reflected in Paul’s difficulty in finding a job, but the financial workers are depicted as doing just fine. Canary Wharf looms over the characters, and the city, like a dystopian panopticon, forcing people to adjust their behavior and appearance in line with the needs of financial London. Heathrow traffic also bellows overhead reinforcing the dominance of The Economy in Paul’s world.
Whereas the narrator in Fight Club (Ed Norton’s character) was obsessed with IKEA and materialism, Mile End’s Adrian is obsessed with his body (image) and his health. Although this is arguably a more noble pursuit, the smugness in which he recites his marathon achievements and anatomy expertise prove that he is only interested in surface image. Adrian reflects everything that is wrong with the current animosity towards London gentrification.
Mile End sits perfectly alongside other Raindance 2015 films God’s Acre and Love/Me/Do in reflecting a growing discomfort between Londoners and their financial emperors. As I mentioned in the other reviews from this year’s festival – perhaps 2015 will be seen as the year when Londoners finally can’t take it any more?
P.s. the music by Ed Scolding is absolutely brilliant…
Mile End plays at this weekend’s Raindance – check out more here