A strikingly rich thriller that shows the pull of family in different directions underlines Doug Johnstone’s stunning Breakers.

A dysfunctional family to the hilt underscores the story, living in one of Edinburgh’s remaining tower estates, home to Tyler and his family of half-siblings, an addicted mum, and a lovely younger sister, Bean, whom Tyler wants more than anything to protect.

Forced to accompany his older siblings on their string of robberies in more affluent neighborhoods, it’s clear Tyler is only making money to put food on the table. Along the way he meets Flick, from another lifestyle entirely. She is the beam of goodness in Tyler’s life, the one who understands his situation and sees his inner strengths.

Then during one of their jobs, the wife of a crime lord interrupts them and Tyler’s brother stabs the woman and leave her for dead. Soon they are all on the run: from the police, from the crime lord, and for Tyler, maybe even from his older brother with the psychotic streak.

This is an unflinching look at a life lived in the squalor of the estates, which is matched by the gang and abusers who people it. Toxic people come in many forms, and the characterizations here are rich and harrowing. It’s a story you can easily imagine on the big screen, unfolding like a movie you can’t stop watching.