A Very British Gangster (15)

Film image
Donal McIntyre
Dominic Noonan

The View Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/12/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Engaging, frequently disturbing and occasionally amusing documentary about a fascinating character, although the made-for-TV style begins to grate after a while.

What's it all about?
Originally shown on Channel 5, Donal McIntyre's A Very British Gangster has been expanded to feature length and given a big screen release. The film follows charismatic Manchester gangster Dominic Noonan, who has spent 22 of his 39 years in jail, thanks to over 40 different convictions.

As McIntyre spends time with Noonan and his gang of sharply dressed young men (most of them still teenagers), a portrait begins to emerge of a strangely likeable figure, whose warm personality seems somewhat at odds with the multitude of crimes he's supposed to have committed. He also gives a series of candid interviews, where he talks about his sexuality, his Catholic faith, his family relationships and various bank jobs, as well as his standing in the community.

The Good
At times the film is genuinely shocking, such as when McIntyre interviews Dominic with his older brother Desmond, a seasoned criminal and crackhead who giggles while trying to claim that he's never killed anyone. Later on, Desmond is murdered and McIntyre brings his cameras to the funeral, which turns out to be the sort of affair that the Kray Twins would be proud of, complete with local schools and businesses all closing out of respect.

It's also extremely disturbing that people in Manchester frequently go to Noonan instead of the police when they want justice – he's shown sorting out several domestic disputes like a sort of gangland social worker.

The Bad
The biggest problem is that, because of the illegality of Dominic's profession, you're constantly aware that you're not getting the whole story. Similarly, for fairly obvious reasons, McIntyre is unable to delve too deeply into the most interesting aspects of Noonan's life, such as his obsession with police uniforms or his sexual relationships (at one point, it's hinted that he sleeps with at least one of his proteges).

Worth seeing?
In short, this is an engaging documentary that is both entertaining and disturbing in equal measure. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 26/09/2015 06:20

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