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review

Urban Hymn (2015).Courtesy of D Films

In Urban Hymns, Jamie and Leanne are oy-saying broken-home BFFs who share similar rap sheets and a room at a London reform school. Leanne exhibits deep-seated antisocial traits, but there's hope for Jamie, a kid with an appreciation for northern soul and not a bad singer herself. Her (white) saviour is Kate, a meek academic played by Shirley Henderson who goes full To Sir With Love and puts her sociology chops to work in an institution for at-risk youth. So, yeah, the inspirational-teacher trope. Handled by veteran Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones, Urban Hymn is an unimaginative drama, carried by solid acting – Isabella Laughland is chilling as the possessive, menacing Leanne – but let down by an unspectacular script that includes lines such as, "surviving and living are two different things!" For Jamie (Letitia Wright), singing is her ticket out. And while she has a lovely voice, the sense is that we've heard this song before. (14A)