Anuvahood UK 2011
Directed by Adam Deacon, Daniel Toland
Playing at cinemas now
To say I was dragged along to the cinema kicking and screaming to see this movie would be overstating the case just a tad, I think. However, in my defence, my young friend Orange Monkey had expressed a hankering to see this new “youth culture” movie since we saw the trailer together while we were waiting for Paul to start (for more Orange Monkey shenanigans, see my Paul review here) and since I have to own up to it being usually me who picks the movie (which turns out to be a good thing after seeing this ;-) I wanted to be enthusiastic and supportive of her choice of celluloid torture for the evening.
I do have to confess, though, that in the back of my head I knew the lead director/writer/actor/songwriter’s work from his stint as one of the “bad guys” in the excellent movie 4321 from last year so I was kinda hoping for more of the same... even though the trailer looked kind of lame to me and I couldn’t understand half of the words that the young people in said trailer were saying... or at least, I could understand the words they said, just not how they applied in geographic context to each other as they randomly appeared juxtaposed next to each in something which sounded suspiciously like they could be sentences.
The film began while me and Orange Monkey were desperately shovelling the best part of a shared bag of pic’n’mix into our mouths... but I’m sorry to say that as the movie started to play out, I got less interested in the adventures and exploits of Adam Deacon and his flimsy cohorts as I was by trying to remember just what it was that I’d shovelled into our big bag of fattening, price-bloated movie sweets. Chocolate raisins? Check. Licorice Torpedos. Check. Rainbow Chocolate Drops. Oh yes. Well this bag of pic’n’mix was shaping up to be very interesting indeed... but what about the film?
Well... it wasn’t good but it did have a couple of moments in there which made you realise that this was a well intentioned film put together by some talented people who just happened to get things quite wrong and delivered a package that doesn’t really hold up too well on a basic entertainment level... rather than just being complete incompetents who should never have been left in charge of a clapperboard at all, let alone a camera and monetary budget.
What I’m trying to say here is, that although Deacon himself is actually very good and somewhat likeable as the central character of a loser trying to get by, he surrounds himself with characters who are constantly critical of him and who seem to be unbelievably one dimensional. There’s no real plot to speak of and the constant “comical” hard knocks mixed with kitchen-dub-synch slices of life do nothing to make you care much for the characters or get too involved with their fall and decline. For a little while there, about two thirds of the way through, the movie looks like it might well be finding its heart but nothing solid or useable or, indeed, likeable ever really emerges from these little brief glimpses of passion buried soullessly underneath this jumbled mess of a movie.
I really wanted to like this movie but those brief flashes don’t make up for an uneven script and a really brutal and violently nasty fight towards the end which pretty much kills off any last lingering ideas that this movie might be trying to do anything other than try to quickly save itself by trying to invest you in a brutally put down underdog who is about to rise above himself.
A shame as there are truly some nice little touches of creative spark hovering just at the edges of this movie. The rebranding of Sainsburys to Lamesburys as the local supermarket to offer up an instant recognition hit of MacJob culture, for instance. Or a brilliant montage sequence of “our hero” selling drugs in his local “hood” with CGI intervention so the same characters are seen all over the place as the camera moves back and forth between different areas of the neighbourhood without cutting, sometimes capturing the characters in contrast against themselves... all the while playing out with a modern half song/half rap parody cover version of “So You Wanna Be A Boxer” from Bugsy Malone. But for the most part, these little diversions are very much a case of too little too late and really don’t save the movie on their own merits.
Anuvahood is very much trying to be the Dead End Kids meet Superfly in a modern London ghetto setting... but ends up being less fly and more dead than the directors and writers possibly bargained for. A noble attempt and I’d hate this to be the last work these guys ever put their hand to because there is a level of raw sparkle here which could really “go large” if the talent is handled in the right way... but overall, the film is barely watchable and just doesn’t deliver what it thinks it might be trying to say on the tin.
Or to put it in a way that even the young characters in this film might understand... being as English seems to be their second language...
“Dis film is weak, man, is weak!”