Having been gone for four years Chris (Daniel Mays) shows up on the doorstep of his old school friend Shifty (Riz Ahmed) and is taken back to find his clever friend has gone from doing a bit of weed to being a full time drug dealer, nervously twitching when ever the doorbell goes. Deciding to hang around with him for the next 24 hours Chris tries to convince Shifty he needs to quit dealing before he is caught. Meanwhile not only does Shifty and Chris have to deal with Shifty's brother Rez (Nitin Ganatra) who likes to make them feel uncomfortable but also Trevor (Jay Simpson), a middle aged family man with a major drug habit to support. And then there is Glen (Jason Flemyng), Shifty's supplier who plans on stitching him up.
To some the thought of watching a movie about a drug dealer may be off putting but history has taught me that these movies can be some of the most insightful and surprising movies of them all, especially when those involved are new to you. That is most certainly the case when it comes to "Shifty" a movie written and directed by Eran Creevy which is based on his own teenage experiences.
So what is so special about "Shifty"? Well there are lots of things from the believable writing to the acting with both Riz Ahmed and Daniel Mays delivering convincing performances as two childhood friends. That is one of the key beauties about this movie because as in real life people go their own way but often when they get back together they will have that brief moment, the rose tinted memory of the past when the years just disappear and they are back to being school mates. As such there is this simple but beautiful scene when Chris and Shifty mess around on a ride in a playground as if they were schoolboys bunking off school.
But what we also get in "Shifty" is this look at friendship and loyalty as we see how Chris left the life behind and made something of himself whilst Shifty having stayed has got caught up in an illegal way of life yet Chris still stands by even when Shifty makes comments about having left him to deal with the mess. Not only that we see how Chris will still do anything for his friend in the hope that he will see sense and pack up on the dealing. There is more to this, there is the mystery of why Chris fled four years earlier, the almost comical intimidation of Rez as well as the dodgy supplier which keeps you involved, intrigued by where this is going to end up.
What this all boils down to is that "Shifty" might seem like a movie for young people, a movie about a drug dealer on the outskirts of London but it is more as it has depth, characters and behind its easy to watch tone some real depth.