Blue Story review – inner-city drama told with rap, rhythm and confidence | Film

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YouTube hasn’t been the best breeding ground for cinematic talent, as 2010’s Fred: The Movie, which grew out of a hit on the video-sharing platform, will attest. This much-hyped inner-city drama – the debut of Rapman, AKA Andrew Onwubolu, whose web series, Shiro’s Story, reached 10m hits – is an assured and capably performed morality play.

Tackling a vicious outbreak of gang violence on the border separating Peckham and Lewisham in London, Onwubolu ports across many of the elements that made his online endeavours such a success – chiefly a sure feel for the south-east London streets and his own rapped on-camera narration.

This last element is where Blue Story is most innovative, elevating a stock melodrama – centred on childhood pals Tim and Marco (Stephen Odubola and Micheal Ward), set in fatal conflict by their older brothers’ affiliations – into exhilaratingly musical territory. (Turn the dial, and we’re not too far from Greek tragedy, or Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet.) The device is at least as dynamic as the scuffling, which erupts out of nothingy Tuesday afternoons, or indeed Onwubolu’s sometimes lurching narrative. A “three years later” card placed at the halfway mark allows for closer scrutiny of the consequences of street violence, whereupon Odubola – pick of the film’s promising new faces – reinvents likable Tim as a brooding avenger.

If there’s a limitation, it may be in a modesty of means and spirit you might not expect from a film-maker newly signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label – it’s a headscrambler to see a Paramount Pictures production with scenes that take place outside a Greggs.

But this is true to the way Onwubolu avoids the usual flash and posturing in favour of a careful, rooted storytelling, finding subtly different perspectives on gang life, and offering his characters as many ways out as there are ways in.

Blue Story opens in UK cinemas on 22 November.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Blue Story review – inner-city drama told with rap, rhythm and confidence | Film

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