Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Tagged "Before adulthood comes..." Kidulthood followed West London youths in a day of sex and drugs and sub-gangland violence, petty theft and gun crime. It was written by Noel Clarke, whose part was important but minor.

In this sequel Clarke has moved to the fore. Indeed, this could be argued to be a star vehicle, if only because Clarke's exposure as Mickey in the new Doctor Who has brought him international attention. He reprises his role as Sam, a former school bully jailed as an adult for a brutal assault, and Adulthood follows him on his first day out of prison.

Copy picture

Sam is struggling with the legacy of his time inside, and trying to reassimilate after an absence of six years. His situation is further complicated, however, by the cycle of violence: those left behind have not forgotten, and some of them are looking for vengeance.

Clarke has range and talent, something that might easily have been obscured by having been eaten by a bin. At times it's somewhat discomfiting trying to handle a Doctor's Assistant's boyfriend in the squalor and paranoia of London's W10, but there's more than enough grit to outweigh any lingering tweeness.

Eastenders veteran Scarlett Alice Johnson is confident as Lexi, near enough the only person willing to help Sam after his release. While she's not entirely stretched by the role, what with Walford's legacy of grinding drama, she's still good. There's a convincing chemistry between her and Clarke - indeed, the cast works well as a whole.

Some of this is doubtless because of the number of actors returning from Kidulthood. Newcomers have been skilfully integrated, and the relationships portrayed come across as realistic. As Sam's little brother Omen, Jacob Anderson has a difficult path to tread between his brother's reputation and his fate. He's part of a second generation of "kidults", robbing for local heavy Ike (Nathan Constance) before being hired to off someone through the machinations of his 'mate' Dabs, Ben Drew aka rapper Plan B. Drew is somewhat of a revelation, bringing a thuggish intensity to the role.

Danny Dyer has a minor role, so too does Wil Johnson. While their parts are small they appear designed to lend a little credibility or name recognition. It doesn't matter really how familiar any of the cast are, indeed, a general lack of recognition helps Adulthood steer a quasi-documentary course. It's easy for films of this type to feel like they're designed to impart a lesson, and while Adulthood gets its message across clearly it doesn't feel as lumbering as other films like How She Move.

As Jay, Adam Deacon is consumed by his desire for revenge, distracted already by his existence as a minor villain even in the bedroom. Moony is one of his pals, sworn to vengeance with him over the incident that landed Sam in jail, but Femi Oyeniran ably deals with the difficulties of moving on from within such circumstances. Theirs is not the only convincing relationship continued from Kidulthood. Red Madrell is strong as Alisa, a young mother left behind by Sam's act of violence.

By focusing on violence as a means of problem solving, on the consequences of violence on all those involved, Adulthood certainly speaks to modern concerns. Knife crime, gun crime, community support officers all play a part in this story. This isn't a meditation on violence to the same extent as Gus Van Sant's Elephant, but it's still about the same sort of choices, the same sort of aftermath.

This is a solid film, well written and paced. As with most films involving youth subcultures there's a real danger that the patois will seem needlessly dated, but Adulthood steers a steady course, though without the same verve as Brick. It's a mature film about the consequences of actions, about what it means to be not just an adult, but a member of a society.

Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2008
Share this with others on...
Adulthood packshot
The sequel to Kidulthood follows a young man on his first day out of prison.
Amazon link

Director: Noel Clarke

Writer: Noel Clarke

Starring: Noel Clarke, Adam Deacon, Scarlett Alice Johnson, Jacob Anderson, Ben Drew, Danny Dyer, Femi Oyeniran, Shanika Warren-Markland

Year: 2008

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Search database:

If you like this, try: