Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Trials of Jimmy Rose

Oi oi! You lucky people! It’s everyone’s favourite diamond geezer Ray Winstone, doing what he does best – being an old ex-convict brought back into his old ways! 

Created by Alan Whiting and out now on DVD, The Trials of Jimmy Rose is a 3-part ITV original drama that aired over the past few weeks. It tells the story of a man named Jimmy Rose (Ray Winstone, oi oi!), who has just been released from prison into a changed world. After 12 years in the slammer, Jimmy Rose has a bit of fish-out-of-water banter early on – he’s given a new fully touch screen phone and can’t work it; “where are the buttons?”, he asks. But he learns very early that his granddaughter is in trouble, addicted to heroin and owing a lot of money to some bad people. He’s not having that, so he decides to save the day. He also has to deal with his estranged son and his wife’s affair with a rozzer (that’s police officer to you and me!). It’s all somewhat predictable, and feels like a mesh of the classic Winstone starrer Sexy Beast and recent 3-part BBC drama The Driver.

In true gangster style, the show opens with a classic Frank Sinatra song – That’s Life – but not as you know it. This time, it’s being sung by Ray Winstone. From here, you know this is going to be one big Ray Winstone affair. And it is. Let’s face it, we haven’t seen much of the geezer lately so maybe he’s trying to remind us that he exists. Other than his rather uncomfortable attempt at singing, he’s on top form – the best he’s been in a while, probably since the aforementioned Sexy Beast from 15 years ago. Amanda Redman, coincidentally also in Sexy Beast, delivers a fine performance as Jimmy’s wife. But, as with any film or show that makes you take sides with a criminal or general bad bastard, you’ll find yourself angry at Jimmy’s wife purely for being realistic and not wanting him to commit crime and whatnot. Y’know, woman stuff. Outside of Winstone and Redman, the cast are relatively unknown in comparison – but they mostly hold their own in terms of acting chops. A few characters, such as Jimmy’s estranged son and a slightly unhinged gangster who gets him back in the game, are a little weak in terms of performance. But they’re not in it enough for this to be much of an issue. Quality-wise, The Trials of Jimmy Rose doesn’t feel like any more than what it is – an ITV drama. Don’t expect to be absorbed so much that you mistake it for HBO. No, it feels low budget and has that British TV feel. You know what I’m talking about. Still, it looks nice enough and doesn’t feel cheap, just low budget. Cinematography is adequate throughout and the costume and set design is decent.

The main issue with The Trials of Jimmy Rose is the predictability and unoriginality of the story. Maybe I’ve just seen one too many films or shows like it, but there wasn’t one twist, turn or attempt at tension that had me in shock or on the edge of my seat. The last 30 minutes of the finale in particular is more-or-less the same as BBC’s recent The Driver starring David Morrissey. As well as the finale feeling like a rip-off of another show, it also feels a bit out of place in general – parts of it feel like they’re from a different series altogether. But if you make it to the end, you get the double whammy of treats that is a shot of Ray Winstone’s big old arse then a scene of him being inexplicably given a selfie stick (‘A selfie on a stick?’) as a treat, and trying to use it. If anyone looks back on this show in 50 years, they’ll see that scene and be filled with nostalgia – “back in my day, we took these delightful photographs known as ‘selfies’!”.

In conclusion, The Trials of Jimmy Rose is nothing special. It’s another instantly forgettable piece of ITV’s history – they pump these 3-part dramas all the time. I don’t know where they find time to make them all. But, Ray Winstone is great in it and it’s nice to see him back in the lead role where he belongs.  

The Trials of Jimmy Rose gives us a fine performance from Ray ‘The Guv’ Winstone, but not much else. 2/5.


Sam Love

The Trials of Jimmy Rose at CeX

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