A Brixton Tale

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

A Brixton Tale
"At just 76 minutes, it has the feel of an extended short, that could either do with condensing back or extending further into the psychological drivers of the two main characters ." | Photo: Courtesy of Glasgow Film Festival

There's a nervy energy to this feature debut from Darragh Carrey and Betrand Desrochers, who show a flair for visual storytelling even if the narrative ultimately treads a predictable path. Visuals are at the heart of this tale, which is partly seen through the lens of white young blogger Ophelia (Lily Newmark), who it turns out is a "proper rich girl".

She masks this to a degree behind a permanent pout, by shortening her name to Leah and hanging about the street with her camera, where she is particularly drawn to black teenager Benji (Ola Orebiyi) and his mates. She could almost be a modern-day incarnation of Joanna Hogg's Julie (The Souvenir), encouraged by her gallery mentor Tilda (Jaime Winstone) to be on the lookout for poverty porn - although she would probably call it "edge". Friendship and romance begin to crackle between Leah and Benji and initially there's some debate as to who might hold the cards - she may have stalked him, but he stalks her right back.

Copy picture

As the film progresses, however, and things take a turn for the less than legal, her innate white privilege comes to the fore. The idea of authorship is strong, as the person who holds the camera is largely shaping the narrative, something that Leah will also find herself uncomfortably on the end of - and the film is at its most interesting when we're watching the interplay of what Leah is recording and her off-camera interactions. The dialogue arrives in bursts and it's testimony to the excellent performances by Orebiyi (who can also be seen in the upcoming Limbo) and Newmark that it holds together as well as it does. Craige Middleburg also makes his presence felt as Benji's mate Archie, who suffers increasing amounts of collateral damage as his mate's romance grows.

At just 76 minutes, it has the feel of an extended short, that could either do with condensing back or extending further into the psychological drivers of the two main characters but it nevertheless offers a showcase for Oreybiyi and Newmark and suggests this directorial pairing is likely to go on to more mature work in the future.

Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2021
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A Brixton Tale packshot
Wealthy YouTuber Leah chooses shy youth Benji as the subject of her Brixton documentary. They fall for each other, but the desire for edgy footage leads them down a violent path.

Director: Darragh Carey, Bertrand Desrochers

Writer: Rupert Baynham, Darragh Carey

Starring: Lily Newmark, Michael Maloney, Jaime Winstone

Year: 2021

Runtime: 76 minutes

Country: UK


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