Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Everything's coming up Micah. He's got a job, got a girlfriend, and when his mother goes back to Nigeria, a house. His elder brother Malachi is on the outs with their mother, she disapproves of the way his life has gone. "How come," she asks, "Micah can keep in line but you have to go haywire?"

Yet all is not as it seems. Micah's success is both illusory and fragile, and as the film unfolds it becomes clear just how complicated his situation has become.

Micah is played by television regular Daniel Kaluuya, a confident swagger in an immaculate suit. He's not high on the corporate ladder though, doorstepping in supra-London neighbourhoods to persuade people to switch their telecoms provider. His boss (and girlfriend) Jenny is a well kept secret from his disapproving mother, and the target-busting techniques of his colleague Ashmead are themselves a secret from Jenny.

The brotherly tension between David Ajala's Malachi and Kaluuya is convincing. Past slights and Playstation triumphs and the zealous defence of their mother's precious carpet all feel real. While it's Kaluuya's film, his expressive face the focus of the opening shots, the cast around him help Micah soar. Ashmead, the voice of temptation, is played well by Shane Zaza, and his concern as Micah unveils his schemes expecting approval is impressive. Nicky Ladanowski manages to balance professional and personal concern as Jenny, but Cecila Noble is the most powerful woman in Micah's life. House and culturally proud, disapproving of Malachi's choices and proud of what Micah tells her of his, her reactions are at the heart of the film. Coming home to find her sons wrestling on her carpet as grown men, gazing at a childhood portrait on the wall. Little scenes and moments of performance are impeccable, excellent sound work as she pauses outside her home to listen to her children argue, the nods and hunches and turns and glances that make characters whole, real, genuine.

The performances are predicated upon an excellent script. Levi David Addai has a sense of familial dynamics and the mischief that can be caused within them that totally convinces. John Maiden's direction is assured, ranging ably from kitchen confrontations to a car chase of sorts between a Suzuki Swift and a Vauxhall Corsa.

As with the rest of the Coming Up project the technical work is excellent, providing a great showcase for the talent of the script-writer and director. Set-dressing is one of those things that's often only noticeable when it's done badly, but in Micah everything seems right, from highlighted maps on walls to beaded curtains. Special mention should be made of Dan Parry's work as composer, covering a range of tones with a degree of sensitivity. Among great performances from the cast it never distracts, and is used well enough to enhance what's happening on screen.

Micah's personal success might be troubled, but the film's quality is not The film is a great demonstration of Addai and Maiden's talents, and also a star turn from Daniel Kaluuya.

Reviewed on: 13 Jul 2011
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Tensions escalate between two brothers as the apparently respectable life of one begins to unravel.

Director: John Maidens

Writer: Levi David Addai

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, David Ajala, Cecilia Noble

Year: 2011

Runtime: 24 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2011

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