"Getting alive for one summer!" is how Sister Cristina encapsulates Hummingbird. This film has layers that intriguingly unfurl. At the core of it is an interesting story of a gangster and a nun.
This film, which spans over a period of eight months from spring to autumn, uses the small petite Hummingbird beautifully as an analogy since it makes its presence felt in Britain during this period.
Set in London over a period spanning February to October, writer-director Steven Knight's film highlights the redemption of the protagonist and issues like - the police turning a blind eye to prostitution, human trafficking, homelessness, violence and more that haunt the small denominators of society.
The film begins in a rudimentary documentary style, against the military and socio-political backdrop of Afghanistan, where a special commanding officer delivers "justice", his way. And then abruptly moves on to the back alleys of London, where the local drug peddlers unabashedly punches drug addicts and then chases a drugged couple, god knows for what!
This initial 15 minutes of the film leaves the audience bemused trying to grasp the link to make some semblance of the story, and this is no dream sequence.
The chased dishevelled, uncombed drug addict is Joseph aka Joey, the former Special Forces Commander on the run from a military court martial. He breaks into a plush vacant apartment and realises that the flat belongs to some fashion photographer called Damon, who is away in New York for three months. So he illegally occupies the flat.
Taking this as a cue to turn his life around, Joey ditches the booze and drugs, cuts off his long unkempt hair changes into the well-tailored suit, and uses the flat owner's credit card which he finds in the piled up post. Suddenly he has everything. He then goes out in search of his girlfriend Isabel, who he had left behind while he was being chased.
But then over time he gets the news that Isabel is murdered. He goes into denial but his past in Afghanistan too haunts him and he hallucinates - the humming birds.
Out on the streets he bumps into an old acquaintance from Afghanistan - Cristina, who now is a nun with the Sisters of Redemption. With her Christian faith, Cristina tries to change him "into a good man".
What follows is a series of interesting and funny sequences that lead to the climax. The mushy and over-emotional romantic moments coupled with the well chiselled one-liners between Joey and Cristina will keep you asking for more.
The script backs the rough and tough Jason Statham as Joey and the unassuming Agata Buzek as Sister Cristina. Their characterisation and convincing back story, revealed through a series of flash backs, makes it impossible to disbelieve the situations and the narrative.
The cinematography by Chris Menges evocatively captures London's underbelly. Overall, the high production values, boosted by Menges' visual instincts, John Casali's eclectic sound mix and composer Dario Marianelli's stirring score, elevates the debut effort of Steven Knight.