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Idris Elba’s thin but competently assembled directorial debut takes on Jamaican-British writer Victor Headley’s 1992 cult novel of the same name, keeping its patois dialogue (and admirably shunning subtitles). Kidulthood’s Aml Ameen is Dennis, or “D”, a young man sent from Jamaica to England by music producer/drug lord King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd) to deliver a stash of cocaine.
London happens to be home to his childhood sweetheart Yvonne (Shantol Jackson) and their young daughter, who fled Kingston’s violence several years earlier in pursuit of a better life. It’s also the home of the man who shot and killed his brother, Jerry, 10 years ago.
Aided by production designer Damien Creagh, Hackney native Elba captures the period details of early 1980s London with the eye of someone who has lived through it (I marvelled at the decor of the front rooms). There’s some flair, too, in how the film uses colour and scale to capture the verdant hills in its Jamaica-set prologue, the bright, poppy blues and greens giving them a kind of mythic quality. Yet an over-explanatory voiceover seems to indicate a lack of confidence in the script’s jumbled plotting and laggy pacing. The performances aren’t bad (Ameen’s charisma eclipses the expositional dialogue), but the stakes feel low and the characters gangster-movie generic.
Source: The Guardian
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