Set in 1969, The Hot Potato is apparently based on real events and inspired first time director Tim Lewiston enough to commit said events to film. Kenny (Ray Winstone) is an east end geezer running a scrap metal business with the help of dolly bird Carole (Ray’s daughter, Lois Winstone), when one day Danny (Jack Huston) drags in an extremely heavy metal case containing something that looks like a baked potato.
They mess the metal about a bit before they realise it’s Uranium and radioactive, so decide that as they’ve already been exposed to the radiation, they may as well sell it. They know some likely lads who will help them get rid of it; Harry (Colm Meaney) and brothers Bill/Ben (John Lynch) are more than happy to take a big cut of the profits for producing the right European contacts. Carole’s not very happy at the thought of her sweetheart Danny going abroad without her, so she tags along on their trip to Belgium.
From that point onwards they visit lots of different European countries and cities and with each new place the threesome visit, the film descends into farce.
There are patches of amusement, mostly provided by the enigmatic American character Harrison (David Harewood) and Louise Redknapp’s efforts at pretending to be Ray Winstone’s wife but mostly it’s just tiresome. Carole is meant to provide a bit of light relief by amazingly being able to handle a gun and be more aggressive than the rest of them but this twist is executed extremely cynically (a bird, shooting people and all that?! Wow). I found myself wondering ‘what would Del boy do?’ and amusing myself that way instead.
The performances are ok but you get the feeling they are fairly limited by the script. John Lynch is notably dull as the tough Irish wheeler-dealer twin brothers, achieving neither menace nor humour.
Early on, the film shows some promise and you do wonder where the whole Uranium business is going to bring them. Half an hour in, you will wonder no longer. I suppose the style of film has its fans but with this modern produced effort, devoid of the charm originally displayed by these films, you will see exactly where it is going and fervently hope it doesn’t take too much longer to get there. If you like Ray Winstone’s usual roles, you may be a little disappointed that he doesn’t hurt anyone but you may just find this enjoyable.
The World Premiere of The Hot Potato takes place at the East End Film Festival on 04 July.