LONDON -- Writer-director Paul Morrison's "Wondrous Oblivion" is an unassuming story about a young boy's first exposure to racism in South London in 1960. It uses cricket in the same way that "Bend It Like Beckham" used soccer as the catalyst for learning and acceptance. However, without the attractive young women and with a game far less exciting to the uninitiated, "Oblivion" lacks the spark of the earlier film. Its future would appear to be on television and DVD.
David (Sam Smith) is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose grandparents were killed in the Holocaust. His father, Victor Stanley
Townsend), is earnest and industrious, and his mother, Ruth (Emily Woof
), is devoted and keen to fit in to their London surroundings.
David loves cricket. He collects cricket cards the way American kids collect baseball cards. He has his bat and pads and knows all the game's etiquette. He's just not very good at playing it.
That changes, however, when a Jamaican family moves in next door and the father, Dennis (Delroy Lindo
), puts up a cricket net in his back garden. Soon David is invited to play with Dennis' daughters, and his lack of skill becomes apparent. Inevitably, Dennis teaches David, and he makes it onto his school's first team. Just as inevitably, the white neighbors on the street, who have no idea that David's family is Jewish, object to the presence of a black family.
Ugliness develops, and it takes a racist attack on the black family's home, which is set on fire, to raise the consciousness of all around. This is a well-meaning film, and there is an unexpected development when Ruth develops an unhealthy crush on Dennis. Yet it plays out to little dramatic effect.
Lindo gives a typically restrained performance and is well matched by Woof. Smith and Leonie Elliott
as Judy, one of Dennis' daughters, are both charming.