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While filming his latest thriller in a London sink estate, actor Michael Caine was shocked at the deterioration of the housing institution, which, ironically, makes his movie all the more relevant.

Caine grew up in such a social housing complex, but remembers a very different environment. Grateful for electric lights and indoor bathroom when he first moved into an estate as a child, Caine remembers his loving family, food on the table, and his own gang: “Seven guys that were funnier than me. We had a lot of fun. We used to drink and chase girls,” he told London’s Evening Standard. Much has changed.

His new film paints a grim picture of the sink estates rife with crime and violence. Seeing this as reality has Caine speaking out: “This [movie] is a dark portrait but unfortunately it’s very true and we’re all responsible for it. We left the children to rot. We left these children and they grew into animals.”

Southwark councillor Kim Humphreys disagrees with Caine. “Elephant and Castle is in a state of transition,” she said, but feels the community remains strong.

Caine feels otherwise. “That terrible place for me was a step up,” he told the paper. “But when I see how these children live now – compared with the flats there now, [mine] was like a middle-class dwelling.”

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