The film opens with a woman and child, Kelly and Joanne, bursting into a London toilet. Joanne is crying and Kelly has a black eye. Eventually Kelly gets them on a train to Brighton, and it is clear they are running from someone.
Joanne is an eleven-year-old runaway who is procured by a reluctant Kelly into having sex with an old violent mobster with a taste for underage girls. Kelly's pimp, Derek, bullies her into complying, but it all goes horribly wrong, and the old mobster is killed, presumably by one of the girls. The older man's son, Stuart, then forces Derek to find the girls. The film follows the duo's flight from London in the wake of what has happened.
Arriving initially in Brighton, Kelly visits her friend Karen and tries to earn enough money through prostituting herself to help Joanne afford the train to Devon, where the child's grandmother lives. The two are eventually tracked down by her pimp and his associate and taken to meet Stuart at a secluded field. Upon arrival, Kelly's pimp and associate are made to dig two graves, presumably for the girls. However, Stuart decides that the girls are the victims in this episode and decides instead to kill Kelly's pimp and associate. The film ends with Kelly and Joanne arriving at Joanne's grandma's house in Devon. Kelly watches from a distance as the girl and the grandmother hug, then turns away.
Lorraine Stanley as Kelly
Georgia Groome as Joanne
Sam Spruell as Stuart Allen
Alexander Morton as Duncan Allen
Johnny Harris as Derek
Chloe Bale as Karen
Nathan Constance as Chum
The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. Aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 67% of critics gave the film a positive appraisal based on 27 reviews. Metacritic reported that the film had an average score of 55 out of 100 based on seven appraisals, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Awards and nominations
The film won a British Independent Film Award for Best Achievement in Production. Williams won the Golden Hitchcock award at the Dinard Festival of British Cinema, the New Director's Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the Foyle Film Festival, and a Jury Prize at the Raindance Film Festival.
Stella Hockenhull, "An Aesthetic Approach to Contemporary British Social Realism: London to Brighton", Film and Romantic special issue, Jeffrey Crouse (ed.), Film International, Vol. 7, No. 6, December 2009