Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on Those People.
Those People begins with individual interviews of characters, a scenario where authorities must determine the perpetrator of an act of violence. Through these individual perspectives a story takes shape, a South London neighborhood invaded by an undesirable, uncouth newcomer, staking his claim as the new owner of a property.
Imagine the horror when this sought-after neighborhood is literally invaded by a boorish intruder who plans a major remodel and expansion of his new premises to include his car-repair business. Obnoxious Darren Booth and his equally loudmouthed wife settle in the neighborhood like a plague, with no thought for others, banging and screeching from morning 'til night, accompanied by the incessant blaring of heavy metal music.
The community in question, Lowland Way, becomes a war zone. The brash intruder ignores the niceties of a harmonious neighborhood, Booth flaunting his rights as a member of this formerly compatible group. The self-satisfied preening of culturally aware neighbors, albeit dominated by the most outspoken owners, has never been challenged before. None of the unsuspecting owners are prepared for the crude antagonism of Booth and his wife, Jody. Yet all are agreed that the rude intruders will respond to a reasonable petition by the others. Booth's response is sadly predictable: he refuses to entertain their requests, thriving on the daily opportunities for confrontation he relishes in his new role.
Among the neighbors most closely involved in the drama of the new homeowner are young couple Ant and Em, who share a wall with Booth. The couple is just adjusting to the birth of their baby son, parents exhausted by the rigors of new parenthood. Another nearby longtime owner, Sissy Watkins, runs a successful bed and breakfast, supplementing her meager income. Lowland Way is peopled by genteel folk attempting to deal calmly with what will never be a successful endeavor. The barbarians are literally at the gate, peaceful family life slowly eaten away as if by locusts. There is a thrum of horror in the neighborhood as reasonable people are met by raucous abuse, tempers fray, marriages develop cracks, and there are murmurs of a showdown at hand. Candlish captures the trauma perfectly, the terrorization of a proud community, a reckoning on the horizon.
Meetings are called, actions considered, most of them impossible, the congruency of neighborhood reduced to strategy meetings and seething private resentments. The do-it-myself interloper is a symbol of a disintegrating society, order and reason overrun by chaos and demand. Homeowners are helpless in the face of the relentless uncivilized attack of cacophony that is Booth's personal anthem.
A reckoning is inevitable. The sheer volume of hammering and heavy metal music proclaims Booth's entrenched, never-ending aggression. The only question is when someone will crack and mayhem happen.
The slow dissolution of a like-minded community is an apt metaphor for the changing world, where expedience is victorious over tradition and order. Each character, including the selfish Darren Booth, claims a version of truth in an escalating drama that leads ultimately to death. Candlish captures the struggle from the first shocking blow, human nature in all its guises: good, bad, ugly and terrifying.