1991's Let Him Have It is a stylish example of British film's tradition of social realism and class consciousness. Based on the 1952 trial and execution of Derek Bentley, a 19-year-old retarded boy who was the victim of circumstance and gullibility, the film is as concerned with society's corruption of innocence as with the injustice of the British legal system. The accomplished debut performance from Christopher Eccleston gives the film emotional weight, and Tom Courtenay, who made his name in such prototypical English "social commentary" films as The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, also stands out as Derek's father. The film was originally to be directed by Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy) but, when he insisted on shooting in black-and-white, the producers brought in Peter Medak, who had previously directed another slice of British crime history, The Krays.
by Brendon Hanley review