Pete TravisUnited Kingdom110 minutes2014ColourEnglish
In the teeming, multicultural metropolis of modern-day London, a seemingly straightforward missing-person case launches a down-at-heel private eye (Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler) into a dangerous world of religious fanaticism and political intrigue.
Later this year, Riz Ahmed will appear in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and everything will change, for both him and us. For now, those of us who admired him in The Road to Guantanamo, Trishna, Ill Manors, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and Nightcrawler — all of which played at the Festival — can celebrate his new lead performance in Pete Travis' City of Tiny Lights. Ahmed can also been seen at the Festival in a supporting role in Una.
Tommy Akhtar (Ahmed) is a down-at-the-heels London detective who always seems to have one too many problems on his plate. One day Melody (Cush Jumbo) walks into his office, like a classic femme fatale. Her friend Natasha has gone missing. Can Tommy help? Should he?
"I deal in the lies people tell and the truths they don't," Tommy says in the hard-boiled narration. As he scours London's streets for Natasha, he's drawn into a complex web. It begins with intimate betrayals but extends to scandals fairly ripped from today's headlines. And as he tries to solve the mystery in front of him, other secrets open up — ones surrounding a tragic accident buried deep in his past.
Screenwriter Patrick Neate, adapting his own novel, gives Ahmed a rich, layered character to work with. And director Pete Travis (Omagh, Dredd) peppers the story with clever references to film noir, making City of Tiny Lights a savvy and stylish plunge into London's demimonde.