Directed by Shane Meadows, starring Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans, Kathy Burke, Shirley Henderson, Ricky Tomlinson and Finn Atkins.
Billed as 'tinned spaghetti western', director Shane Meadows borrows a dysfunctional Mike Leigh English family and injects plenty of humour and a sprinkle of wild-west drama. Ne'er do well Jimmy (Carlyle), deserted girlfriend Shirley (Henderson) and their daughter Marlene (Atkins) 12 years ago. Shirley is now romantically ensconced with dull-but-nice Dek (Ifans) who attempts to prove his love by proposing on national television. When Jimmy sees Shirley turn Dek down in front of millions, he vows to return to town and reclaim his lady.
However, he soon realises that it will take more than roguish charm to win back the heart of his ex and now-teen daughter. To add to his troubles, he's also on the run from a trio of Scottish villains he double-crossed. In a series of ups and downs, Jimmy's hard-as-nails foster sister Carol (Burke) and her estranged country'n'western crooning spouse (Tomlinson) get involved in a mess that tests everyone's loyalty. Transposing a typical western setting to grim-up-North Nottingham lends a filmic feel to something that could have set itself up as good telly.
Disappointingly, Carlyle is lukewarm in a role that was made for him (especially after his turn as bad-boy Begbie in 'Trainspotting'). Rhys Ifans is both laughable and lovable as the wimpy Dek, while Burke and Tomlinson are there for big, bawdy laughs while the precocious talent of Finn Atkins is more than apparent. Sure, it doesn't break any new cinematic ground, and yes, the we-know-'em-and-like-'em cast are probably the best thing about this film. While 'Once Upon A Time' is no Sergio Leone classic, it's an enjoyable flick that comes recommended.