A shallow and stereotyped drama, although the two protagonists are convincing enough to justify one viewing
How many films about immigration are there going to be before movie makers realize telling the same story over and over again hardly ever works? Yousaf Ali Khan's directorial debut Almost Adult could have had a strong emotional core; sadly it is watered down by an endless stream of clichés.
The title refers to the leading couple, two seventeen-year old girls who come to London to escape the war that is ravaging their home countries (Congo and Kenya respectively). Despite the differences in origin and language, a strong bond is formed between Mamie and Shiku, both of whom have only each other to rely on in a society that treats foreigners like trash.
It is the last aspect in particular that really annoyed me: instead of crafting something different and clever, the director indulges in stereotype after stereotype. Social workers who don't care and are ready to ditch you so they won't be late for whatever plans they had for the evening? Yes. "Landlord" who steals from his tenants and therefore asks for a little comeuppance? Oh, yeah. Elderly couple who pretend to offer some shelter and then use you as if you were some kind of doll? Unfortunately, that is also included. Originality is so rare in this film that even the final stab at the government's stupidity, albeit amusing, ends up feeling flat and irrelevant.
On the flip-side, there is real substance in the relationship between the two girls: the actresses may not be professionals, but the pain and anger that's visible in their eyes is real, making the brief moments where they are apart incredibly dull (I have to say I nearly fell asleep during that section) and justifying the single chance one might be willing to grant the picture.
The movie may be named Almost Adult, but it is actually a child: willing to say something deep, but unable to express it in a compelling, unpredictable way.
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