If his first feature is an indicator that Rowan Athale was born into filmmaking, the fact that he went to the school where Ken Loach's breakthrough film "Kes" was shot bears it out. Now, Athale's time in the sticks of Great Britain has been put to great use in "Wasteland," a deviously devised heist thriller that may operate with the same smoke and mirrors as a glitzy caper as “Ocean's Eleven,” but takes on an entirely different tenor when set in a sleepy town where everybody knows everybody else.
It's a particularly close knit group of friends who decide to case a working men's club in the neighborhood, a quartet of childhood friends who will open up a coffee shop together should they successfully find their way into the club's safe and additionally extract a small amount of revenge for their mate Harvey (Luke Treadaway), who has been recently released from prison on a drug charge he was set up for by the club's owner. While the mechanics of the job are told in familiar, meticulous detail, what's unfamiliar about it is just how high the stakes are since for a group of small-town lads without much criminal inclination, a score isn't measured in monetary gains as much as in maturity and fostering a greater bond with each other. Shortly after the film's debut at this year's Toronto, Athale spoke about bringing real camaraderie to a caper film, shooting in his real hometown of Yorkshire and the filmmakers that got him interested in becoming a director.