A thoroughly absorbing though deeply upsetting drama, County Lines is a remarkable debut feature from New Zealand-born writer-director Henry Blake. Inspired by his own experiences as a youth worker in East London, the film explores how personal and economic factors lead to 14-year-old Tyler (the magnetic Conrad Khan) being groomed for involvement in the eponymous drug-dealing networks that exploit vulnerable children into trafficking Class A drugs, primarily heroin and crack cocaine, from urban areas to rural or coastal towns.
Co-starring Ashley Madekwe and Harris Dickinson, County Lines is a vital empathy machine concerning a difficult subject sometimes prone to bad faith discussions when it comes to the young people who get caught up in the trafficking. But with genuine cinematic verve and complex characterisation, it’s far from a didactic tug on the heartstrings.
Speaking to us at the Glasgow Film Festival back in February, Henry Blake discusses some of his intentions for the project…
Full interview for The Skinny