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British-Nigerian director Joseph Adesunloye’s feature debut – made in 2016 but only now seeing the light of day – is the story of a London photographer travelling to Senegal for his father’s funeral. It’s a drifting movie, not entirely successful but grounded by the undeniable screen presence of boxer turned model turned actor Dudley O’Shaughnessy. (He was in the recent season of Top Boy; in his modelling days he appeared opposite Rihanna in the video for We Found Love.)
Here he plays Leke, a fashion photographer living the dream in Hackney; home is a loft-style flat overlooking the city and Leke is about to open a major show in China. The film begins with a couple of fake-feeling gallery scenes, everyone head-to-toe in black and air-kissing with extravagant mwah-mwahs (this is the art world recognisable from other movies rather than real life). Despite his success, Leke seems detached from his life in London. He is also ignoring telephone messages from Senegal, where his father is seriously ill. When the inevitable call comes – his dad has died – Leke flies to Dakar. A family friend has arranged for a taxi driver to be his guide. “What do you speak? French? Wolof?” Leke shakes his head no. “Mon ami,” says the guy. “Tu est perdu. You are really, really lost.”
Leke zones out, staring out of the taxi window. But Dakar switches him on; he photographs everything around him and starts seeing beautiful Badewa (Yrsa Daley-Ward). Then, reluctantly, he makes the journey to his dad’s village. Someone alludes to a family rift that is never explained – and the script continues in the same vein, revealing nothing about Leke, his childhood or sense of identity. That reticence is frustrating. But O’Shaughnessy – three parts swagger, two parts tenderness – pulls it along nicely. He’s a talent to watch.
• Released on 19 February on Curzon Home Cinema.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: White Colour Black review – Dudley O’Shaughnessy is one to watch | Film