Shifty (Riz Ahmed) is a young London drug dealer whose life spirals out of control when his best friend (Daniel Mays) returns home. He's forced to try to outrun a drug dealer (Jason Flemyng) who is trying to set him up for a big fall while also being stalked by a seriously desperate customer. As his friend tries to confront his dark past, Shifty is forced to confront what may very well be his incredibly violent future.
Written and directed by Eran Creevy, who also directed Welcome to the Punch, $hifty picked up a 2010 BAFTA nomination for Creevy for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer along with nominations in the British Independent Film Awards and wins from the Writers Guild of Great Britain, Stockholm Film Festival and Geneva Cinema Tout Ecran. Indeed, the film's undeniable strengths are Creevy's compelling yet beautifully constructed and rich script along with an absolutely hypnotic performance from lead Riz Ahmed, whose ability to humanize and draw us deeply into Shifty's evolving story is pretty remarkable acting.
While the idea of a crime thriller set in seedy London isn't exactly an original thought, the way that Creevy approaches everything here is original, intelligent and involving. Mays is also terrific as Shifty's conflicted best friend, a young man whose emotional baggage from his lifestyle seems to have left him conflicted and weary.
$hifty has been picked up by Breaking Glass Pictures for a DVD release, and judging from their masterful marketing effort with the film one can only hope that their usual indie fans will break down and add this film to their collection. There's no faux histrionics or Guy Ritchie posing to be found anywhere in $hifty, and as a result this film is likely to be one of fall 2012's better crime thriller's to hit home video.