16 Years of Alcohol

Rated R 2005

The boozing and brawling angry young man, a staple of British cinema, receives a 21st-century makeover in Richard Jobson's self-assured debut. Poetic voice-over and artfully composed shots supplant gritty nihilism and shaky-cam brutality, while a solo piano score and acoustic ballads edge out pub rock. Edinburgh roughneck Frankie Mac (Trainspotting's Kevin McKidd, in blandly earnest mode) recounts the missed opportunity that is his life, beginning with the revelation as a lad that his adored father was actually a cad. This sets Frankie on a routine of drink and violence, until he has an epiphany in his twenties in the form of a record-shop employee (Laura Fraser). Choosing life is one thing; escaping his past -- and the hooligans he once hung with -- is not as easy. The movie's style and structure conspire to evoke a dream rather than kitchen-sink realism, replicating the way we airbrush and romanticize our memories. The conceit generally sustains itself until the last reel, when Jobson strains for poignancy and achieves pretentiousness instead.

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