Though a nuanced character study, at its core, Simon Blake’s feature-length debut Still is a revenge thriller, and one that deviates away from the tropes of the genre to make for a more naturalistic affair. Our protagonist, Carver (Aidan Gillen) is no Bryan Mills or John Wick, he’s just like you and I. A regular, working man with no history of combat, thrown in somewhat abnormal situations, allowing us to relate to his journey and pose the hypothetical “what would I do” question – in a film that makes you think, and invest in what you’re seeing.

Carver is a freelance photographer, currently working on a project for an education magazine, taking head-shots of pupils at a nearby school. The grieving father – whose teenage son was murdered a year earlier – has since reconnected with his ex, Rachel (Amanda Mealing). His small circle of friends extends to his partner Christina (Elodie Yung) and journalist Ed (Jonathan Slinger), who all unwittingly get caught up in the case of a boy killed at a nearby football pitch. Carver strikes up a bond with the deceased’s younger brother, which attracts the attentions of a local gang led by Carl (Sonny Green), who appear to have been involved in the local murder and have since turned their attentions to Carver – who they believe would be best served keeping his nose out of it.

Still marks a creatively inclined project for Blake, who cannot be faulted for his aptitude for ingenuity, with a palpable attempt to be experimental in his means of storytelling. That’s not to say it all pays off, but it’s rewarding nonetheless given how many filmmakers abide so faithfully to convention, particularly where this genre is concerned. What transpires is a visceral experience, such as when the fireworks display takes place during the closing moments, forming such an immersive experience for the viewer, and adding to the intensity of the scene at hand. Music is generally implemented well in this title, with a great soundtrack that really decorates this absorbing narrative.

Meanwhile, Gillen turns in a strong performance, and one that allows for the viewer to just about remain on his side, which is something of an achievement given how many flaws exist to his demeanour. Yet it’s crucial this remains the case, as we need to embody the lead, to relate to him to put ourselves in his shoes, which enhances the impact of the final act. All of the characters are so layered, without any discernible heroes of villains. On paper that may seem to the be the case, but each and every role is portrayed as a human being – as somebody so real, as we witness both sides to every coin. Carver and Ed can come across as being both heroic and pathetic within mere moments of one another.

Blake’s depiction of his North London setting is an honest, authentic one too, which is seldom seen in cinema, and films taking place in the capital. Thanks to this fact – and the level of performances from the leading cast members – the audience are able to immerse themselves in the tale, invest in the characters and abide by the narrative – which is completely imperative when we approach the more melodramatic, theatrical elements. You need to be on side by that point, or there’s a good chance you’ll never quite be able to get involved with this particular feature, which would be a shame, because if you can, there’s certainly a lot here to be admired.