Youth culture meets identity politics in this part-thriller, part-gay love story set in London in 1977, days before the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations. The hedonistic world of pirate ...
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Youth culture meets identity politics in this part-thriller, part-gay love story set in London in 1977, days before the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations. The hedonistic world of pirate DJs Chris and Caz is shattered when a close friend is killed while cruising in the local park. The black community suspect the National Front, but the police pull Chris in as a suspect. This beautifully crafted period piece, a bold and stylish debut feature from Isaac Julien, paints a convincing picture of late-'70s London. The city is a carefully mapped out social landscape, open to all but offering safety to none, as we are taken to a Dalston barber, east London council estates festooned with Union Jacks, West End offices, soul clubs and city parks.
I saw this film shortly after it's release, and felt quite cheated. It's title and advertising gave me the impression that it would be about the black DJ sound systems and soul scene which was at it's height in England during the late '70s and early '80s. But this only took up a fraction of film time. Instead, I had to sit through a convoluted sub-plot featuring a murder mystery which appeared all of a sudden during the movie, a very gratuitous gay sex scene, and generally bad acting and direction. There were a few moments where the protagonists had brushes with the law, and I thought at last this film was going somewhere and would depict the racism of the justice system accurately. But this was not the case, and these scenes appeared to have been either badly written, or edited. And when one character deceides to carry out his own murder investigation, I found it laughable. I understand that no film can be 100% accurate when depicting an era or events around it, and that it should be entertaining to the viewer. But at least a good attempt should be made to get the basics right. For example, hardly any of the black male actors sported an afro hairstyle or wore flares, which would have been as common as a rainy day in London during 1977. Blacks mixing with Punks? I'm no sure about that. They would have considered a lot of Punks to be similar to the skinheads which carried out a lot of racist attacks at that time. Also another sex scene featuring Sophie Okenedo and Valentine Nonyela, was not handled well at all, and was certainly not as explicit as the previous gay sex scenes which says a lot about it's director. By trying to show that homosexuality in the black british community is opposed more than in the white, I feel is absolute nonsense. Homophobia has no colour preference, and being black, it's director Isaac Julien should know better really.
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