Gangsters, drug dealers and growing up in dysfunctional and anti-social families are the staple of low budget British dramas. Sadly, this generally leads to insipid, uninspiring and unoriginal sub-soap opera plots with soap opera actors. Directors Nathaniel Wiseman and Robert Osman skirt dangerously close to cliches in Hard Tide, but a strong central performance, some impressive camerawork and a freshness to the script make it better than most.
Jake (Wiseman) is set to take over the family business when his dad (Ralph Brown), a local gangster and middling drug dealer, is sent down. His best mate, Alfie (Oliver Stark) is ambitious and wants to get in his Margate’s top dog and resident psychopath Simon Flowers (Mem Ferda), but Jake just wants a quiet life. After encountering a neglected nine year old (Alexandra Newick) he takes responsibility, triggering a chain of events which quickly spiral out of control.
Hard Tide opens really promisingly but soon falls into the stagnant waters of mockney ‘lads’ and gangster caricatures. Its redeeming feature is Wiseman. He manages to inject a presence and empathy into a characterisation which fights against the obvious plotting. Whilst all around him are defaulting to type, he delivers moments which make you root for Jake. This, along with some clever direction, makes Hard Tide more watchable than most.
Hard Tide is released on DVD by Metrodome on Monday.