High Heels and Low Lifes

on October 26, 2001 by Chris Wiegand
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   Scripted by Kim Fuller ("Spice World"), directed by Mel Smith ("The Tall Guy") and shot in part in the legendary Ealing Studios, "High Heels and Low Lives" promises at first to be a comical Britflick packed with girl power. Such high hopes are, however, swiftly squashed, as Smith's picture is distinctly low on laughs and, despite a running time of only 86 minutes, far outstays its welcome.

   Minnie Driver plays Shannon, an overworked nurse whose boyfriend Ray (Darren Boyd) doesn't pay her enough attention. When she has an argument with him on her birthday she calls upon best friend Frances (Mary McCormack) to help her celebrate. After a drunken night out on the town, the pair return to Shannon's flat and find themselves overhearing a conversation about a robbery. The following day, Frances forms a blackmail plan whereby the two can get a share of the robbers' loot. Shannon takes a little persuading at first but soon the two girls are playing the role of gangsters in a world that proves far more dangerous than they can imagine.

   "High Heels and Low Lives" is set in a modern-day, tourist-friendly London that--funnily enough--hasn't been seen since "Spice World." It comes across as a kind of ladies' "Lock, Stock" and as such is reminiscent of another recent disappointment, Bill Eagles' "Beautiful Creatures." Like Eagles' film, it suffers primarily from superficial characters, such as inept detectives and cardboard cut-out criminals. Supported by a cast of British TV regulars, Driver and McCormack make for an appealing pair and prove dab hands at comedy. McCormack excels as the funky-dressing American actress who struggles to make a buck by recording the voice for a cartoon alien tomato and appearing in ill-fated amateur dramatics. Such highlights aside, this is both uninspired and unoriginal stuff and sits rather uncomfortably alongside the great Ealing comedies of the '40s and '50s. Starring Minnie Driver, Mary McCormack, Kevin McNally, Kevin Eldon and Danny Dyer. Directed by Mel Smith. Written by Kim Fuller. Produced by Uri Fruchtmann and Barnaby Thompson. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated R for language, some violence and nudity. Running time: 86 min

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