Memory is fickle and intangible – twisted up in a million other thoughts, impulses and ideas. Trying to recreate and represent memory in original and exciting ways on film is not easy. But James Alexandrou manages to do this in Cowboys, a short film written and directed by the ex-Eastenders star.

The damage of a gambling addiction on a family is dealt with in unexpected ways: from the start we don’t know where each scene will lead and this unpredictability makes Cowboys captivating from the word go. It grips you, pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the end.

Sister of the director Antoinette Alexandrou gives a sincere performance as Lisa, long-suffering wife of gambler Dave, passionately played by Kye Loren. Sean Buchanan imbues the film with some cocky comedy and Glen Fox makes a small but great appearance as the one conned by Dave the gambler’s desperation.

Alexandrou, Loren, Fox and Buchanan engage us into wanting to know their characters better. If only it were longer than twenty minutes!

Like Shane Meadows, Alexandrou’s direction is intense and makes you the bystander to the action. But he takes more risks – using a variety of styles and layers: mixing scenes of screaming, scenes of silence and subtitles and ending with a wonderful sequence where Chopin’s Nocturne 2 in E Flat Major plays over the drama. Alexandrou proves he has the talent and vision to tell riveting stories. More please, James!