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Film / High Heels and Low Lifes

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High Heels and Low Lifes is a 2001 British action comedy-drama film directed by Mel Smith and starring Minnie Driver, Mary McCormack, Kevin McNally, Mark Williams, Danny Dyer, Darren Boyd, and Michael Gambon.

Shannon (Driver) is a London nurse who finds her boyfriend Ray (Boyd), a "sound sculptor," becoming increasingly dull and inattentive. When he forgets her birthday, she decides to hit the town with best pal Frances (McCormack), an American actress wasting her time in terrible small-theatre productions and low rent voice-over work. After returning to Shannon's apartment, the girls overhear a cell phone conversation on Ray's scanner detailing a multi-million pound safe-deposit box robbery going on at a nearby bank. When police are uninterested in their information, the girls get the idea to blackmail the robbers to get a share of the money and purchase some much-needed medical equipment for the hospital where Shannon works. But when the criminals, led by the hard-as-nails Mason (McNally), counteract with their own scheme, the caper begins to go wildly out of control.

High Heels and Low Tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: While drunk, Frances calls her best friend Shannon 'Sharon'.
  • All Women Love Shoes: The list of things Frances says they need to buy with the blackmail money includes Jimmy Choos.
  • Blackmail: After accidentally overhearing a phone call detailing a major robbery, Shannon and Frances decide to blackmail the crooks for a cut of the take. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Broken-Window Warning: Frances tosses a brick through the window of the backdoor of Mason's house. This is actually a distraction to let Shannon sneak in through the front door while Mason runs to the back to see what has happened.
  • The Convenient Store Next Door: Mason and his gang tunnel into the safe deposit vault through the basement of the building next door.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Mel Smith appears pushing past Mason at the train station while he is trying to explain to the ticket collector why he doesn't have a ticket.
  • Defenestrate and Berate: After throwing Ray out of her flat, Shannon tosses one last piece of his audio equipment at him from the balcony. Having his arms full, Ray fails to catch it and drops everything he is already carrying.
  • Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction: Shannon and Frances pull this stunt on Mason to trick him into opening his front door. When he does so, Frances throws a brick through his back door, causing to to run back through the house without closing the front door.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Ray leaves his scanner on when he leaves the flat. Shannon and Frances come back at exactly the right time to hear Danny phoning his girlfriend and telling her the details of the robbery going down.
  • Faking the Dead: Shannon and Frances use a Staged Shooting to fake the death of Frances to convince Mason that they are ruthless enough to kill.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Shannon comes home from a 13 hour shift at the hospital expecting her boyfriend Ray to rake her out for her birthday dinner. He has totally forgotten, and when she tries to get him at least take her out for a drink, he is not interested. Instead, she decides to go out with her best friend Frances, kicking off the plot.
  • Gayngster: Mason's boss is a Kerrigan, an old-school gay London Gangster with a veneer of civilisation. Behind his back, Mason refers to him as "the old poof", but Kerrigan is the one person that hard man Mason is scared of.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Frances steals the farmer's Range-Rover after he car explodes during the botched payoff pick-up, and later she steals Barry's sports car when she and Shannon escape from Mason's house.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: When Shannon, who has obviously never fired a gun before, attempts to shoot an automatic rifle, the recoil causes the barrel to rise uncontrollably, so that she not only completely misses her targets but by the end of the burst she is shooting the roof. And when she fires the underbarrel grenade launcher, the recoil knocks her backwards into a hedge.
  • London Gangster: Mason is an old-school London hard man, who works for Kerrigan, a highly successful London Gayngster who keeps all of his dirty work at arm's length these days.
  • Murder by Mistake: Narrowly avoided. Frances and Shannon order Danny to drop the blackmail money in a bin in the park. He does so, but before they can pick it up a homeless man starts rummaging through the bin. Assuming this is the blackmailer, Danny and Barry shoot him, but he survives (barely).
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: At the end of the film, Inspector Tremaine and Sgt. McGill arrive at Mason's mansion and are looking in bewilderment at the shot-up exterior. Mason, who has been injected with a non-fatal dose of insulin, staggers out and addresses them with a string of bizarre militarism-s before declaring that he likes them and passing out.
  • Not With the Safety On, You Won't: Shannon is holding the tied-up Mason at gunpoint. Mason tells the obviously nervous Shannon that she is not going to shoot him, and when she tries to bluff him that she will, he tells her that she hasn't taken the safety off.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Barry seems to be fairly pleasant working class guy whose job happens to be acting as muscle for London Gangster Mason.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: Frances attempts to use a Skeleton Keycard to open Jimmy's door because "it always works on Charlie's Angels". All she manages to do is break every card in her wallet.
  • Skeleton Key Card: Subverted. Frances breaks every card in her wallet attempting to jimmy the lock on Danny's door, commenting frustratedly that "it always works on ''Charlie's Angels''". Shannon then opens the door with a crowbar.
  • Somebody Set Us Up The Bomb: Mason and Barry throw the briefcase supposedly containing the blackmail payment out of the train window into the field where Frances is waiting. Frances takes the case and stows it in her car. However, the case actually contains a bomb which Mason detonates remotely.
  • Staged Shooting: Shannon fakes the shooting of Frances as part of a scam to convince Mason she is willing to kill him.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: Shannon briefly tries keeping a revolver in her bra before deciding this is a bad idea.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Shannon briefly tries concealing a revolver in her bra before deciding this is a bad idea.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: An In-Universe example. Frances is an American woman who is attempting to sound like a British man on the phone. As a result, Mason starts attempting to describe the accent to Kerrigan, before having to admit that he has no idea what the accent was.
  • You Have Failed Me: Sick of Danny's screw-ups, Mason ignores him as Danny promises to fix everything and calmly shoots him through the chest. Danny only survives because a disturbance means Mason has to flee before he can finish him off.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: After being captured, Mason recognises that Shannon and Frances are clearly amateurs, and calls Shannon's bluff when she is threatening to shoot him: telling her that he knows she won't because she hasn't even turned the safety catch off on her gun. This backfires when Shannon, a nurse, instead fills a syringe with insulin and injects half of it into him: leaving the syringe in his arm. She then tells him that the dose he just recieved will make him woozy and light-headed. If he does not tell her where the money is, she will inject the rest of the syringe, which will be lethal.