UK, 2008, 99 minutes, Colour.
Noel Clarke, Scarlett Alice Johnson, Adam Deacon, Jacob Anderson.
Directed by Noel Clarke.
Two years earlier, Noel Clarke wrote the screenplay for and acted the central role in a tough look at schools and homes in West London, the gang culture, the knives, guns and baseball weaponry, attitudes towards authority, family, sexuality. It was called Kidulthood. Local London audiences appreciated it. Those for whom the stories and images were more part of alarming headlines in tabloids were disturbed.
Since then, there has been a proliferation of news about gangs and mindless killings. There have been even more stabbings, especially of teenagers in London in 2008, so Noel Clarke’s new film is timely and relevant (and much of it was filmed just down the street from where this reviewer is writing!). Clarke ha
s written and directed this time and takes up his character from Kidulthood. This film is Adulthood.
When Sam (Clarke) is released from jail after serving a sentence for killing his friend (shown in Kidulthood), he is threatened by a former friend who has set gang members on to him to pay him back. One of these (unaware of who the target is) is Sam’s younger brother.
The film takes place over one day. We see Sam contacting people from the past, even his victim’s widow. He comes across a drug-addicted girl who is sympathetic but is trying to set him up as well with the killers so that she can get her fixes. Sam also visits his mother, is concerned about his brother, shows his wits in escaping his pursuers and turning the tables on the criminal gangs and setting the police on them.
While this is not just another day in London’s western suburbs, it is a reminder that there is a lawless society out there beneath the surface and sometimes coming out on to the streets with violence, a depressing world that seems to be untouched by values. The film is something of a cry out of the depths that there could be a better world for a better life.
1. The title? The UK story? London? Ethnic London?
2. The director, his writing, film directing, performance? Kidulthood? Adulthood?
3. The title and expectations, the sequel to Kidulthood, the characters, elements of plot, continuity?
4. The London locations, the West of London, the streets, homes, prison sequences, clubs and bars, the headquarters of the gangsters? Authentic feel? The musical score and rhythms?
5. Sam as the focus, the recap of the first film, his past, the murder, not wanting to kill the victim? Going to prison? The flashbacks, into the prison, the tough environment, the confrontations with the prisoners, the violence and torture, the various personalities and their motivations? Revenge?
6. The one day, Sam getting out of prison, his quest? Finding the associates? The visits? Going home, later meeting his mother, her unhappiness with him? Going to the cemetery, the stranger, the realisation that there was a hit on him? The folks, their motivations? Going to visit the girl with her daughter, the past together? The girl on drugs, the sexual encounter, her setting him up? The discovery of his brother and his being part of the hit team?
7. His character, age, experience, changing, suspicions, violence? The girl with the child not wanting to see him again? The group and his being bashed?
8. Jay, in himself, small stature, strutting, the commission to hit Sam? Getting the others in the group? The day, seeing Sam on the train, moving around, questioning people, his anger and outbursts, the buildup to the confrontation, his being surly? His treatment of Sam, the argument in the confrontation? His backing down?
9. The group, the ethnic mix, amongst themselves? Ready to be brutal?
10. The bar, the girl studying law, her boyfriend, her strong stances?
11. Themes of race, prejudice, violence? The violent white young man in the group?
12. The finale, the confrontation, sediment his talking, Sam is highlighting Jay’s life?
13. The thugs, Sam setting them up, his visit, the challenge, the police coming, the arrests?
14. The partial picture of London at the beginning of the 21st-century?