From the makers of Kidulthood and Adulthood comes 126.96.36.199, a British drama co-written and directed by Londoner Noel Clark. The title stands for 4 girls, 3 days, 2 cities, and 1 chance.
Significantly less dramatic than its trailer, the film centres around 4 college-aged girls and their individual experiences of a frantic and emotional weekend. The girls meet on Friday morning before going their separate ways. In the style of Run Lola Run, each story unfolds, then rewinds, and switches to another key player. We soon come to understand the motivations behind each girl’s behaviour, culminating with the tense climactic scene with which the film began.
It is a clever marketing campaign, one which promotes the strength of young women and puts them at the centre of a heist film with a difference. Realistically, it is all overblown and, despite being a good attempt at bringing strong female roles, ultimately betrays a misunderstanding of women. As a character study, the film is interesting, and develops its 4 protagonists well. However, their construction is all very paint-by-numbers. We have Shannon: the tortured, abandoned teen; Cassandra, the rich and refined but naïve beauty; Kerrys, the feminist bad-girl; and Joanne, the pushover. Each girl is furnished with a family issue and a relationship issue, all of which have different consequences but the same goal: to humanise the girls and evoke empathy.
The focus on these four characters causes some other functions to fall by the wayside. The dialogue, for example, rings false from the beginning. When Shannon has her purse stolen, Kerrys bounds to the rescue, giving the perpetrator a taste of her kick-ass girl power. The tacky monologue that follows, though, negates her actions with the overuse of “bitch” and a not a few too many cocky head-jerks. The same can be said of Cassandra’s vengeance later in the film, in which she has a similar outburst that makes her sound feeble rather than empowered.
The diamond-theft subplot and partial setting in New York are fairly incidental to the plot, making one of the film’s huge draws insubstantial. Many scenes end with convenient to-the-rescue moments which stall the pace of the film and unbalance points of tension.
Despite its faults, I did try to watch the film in context. Silly at points, it was difficult to tell how seriously it wanted to be taken. As a fun film with some friskiness, it is entertaining, though over-long… but 188.8.131.52 doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
184.108.40.206 opens in UK cinemas on Wednesday 2nd June.