Our star-crossed lovers in this instance are Terry (Elliott Tittensor) and Willow (Charlotte Hope) – the former of which fights on behalf of the North of England, while the latter is the daughter of Vic Clarke (Steven Berkoff) – the tyrannical leader of the South gang. The war between the two has reached boiling point too, thanks to the erratic actions of the sinister Gary Little (Brad Moore) – incensed on making a name for himself, no matter what it takes. He even savagely slits the throat of Alf (Steve Evets), without realising the victim just so happens to be a best friend of the North’s leader John Claridge (Bernard Hill), which creates further tension – leaving the two lovers to ensure their relationship remains a secret – or further lives will be lost.
The stylistic fervour of this piece is implemented with a minimum contrivance, while there’s a dark, sombre atmosphere that lingers over proceedings, as Nesbit doesn’t shy away from bleak themes, and harrowing images. Moore’s performance perfectly encapsulates everything that is brutal about this piece, as a well-crafted antagonist, who manages to have as many enemies from those in the South (who he sides with), as he does with the Northerners. It’s a stand-out performance in a film otherwise lacking in such an area, as Gary Little is a nasty piece of work, intimidating, barbaric and yet somewhat pathetic too.
The character is emblematic of a film that feels somewhat unfairly balanced too, as the Southerners all seem like pretty nasty people, whereas it’s clear from the fact that Tittensor’s Terry is narrating the piece, that we’re looking at this set events from one side’s perspective – the North. But part of what makes Romeo & Juliet so wonderful is that nobody is better or worse than anybody else – both sides are just as bad as each other, as the only sane people amongst them are the lovers themselves, and this defies that sentiment.
In spite of any positives, such as Moore’s performance, the cinematography or just the indelible mood created – they remain within the frustrating boundaries of the genre at hand, as a film that seems adverse to transcending the tropes that we’ve come to associate with a traditionalist, British gangster flick. There will be an audience who respond well to such familiarity, but the overwhelming, generic nature of the title will be enough to put off the majority of filmgoers.