Co-directors Darragh Carey and Bertrand Desrochers create a beautifully shot and moving film with A Brixton Tale, capturing the drama within this small microcosm that harbors people living in completely different worlds. Through an increasingly poignant tale, Carey, Desrochers, and their lead Ola Orebiyi explore love, loyalty, and youth, the growing pains resultant from the loss of them all, and the placement of consequence in their stead.
What at first seemed like it would be some droll, melodramatic Gen Z romance, A Brixton Tale, turned out to be an emotionally hard-hitting and heartbreaking coming of age story. It was difficult for me to understand the film, and I mean literally, as the South London underground accent was further stifled by muffled sound-mixing, however, this forced me to hang on to the film’s every word, and even in the lost bits of conversation, the actors conveyed their characters’ personalities perfectly. This story was frustrating, not frustrating in a bad way, but rather frustrating in a compelling way because of the events that take place and because the story is almost infuriatingly unfair. But all the better for our entertainment.
A Brixton Tale follows Benji (Ola Orebiyi), a black young-adult of the South London borough of Brixton. When one day Leah (Lily Newmark), an aspiring filmmaker, captures Benji and his friend on the street, she becomes both enamored and fascinated by him, and decides to make him the central figure of a new movie. Encouraged by her aunt, a director of an art studio, Leah captures the violent, tense, injustices the Benji experiences on a daily basis. As Benji and Leah grow closer, Leah finds herself in need of Benji not only cinematically, but also, with carrying her emotional angst the stems from her proper wealthy life and the idle habits that she partakes in to pass the time.
If you are a fan of gritty life-stories then watch A Brixton Tale for the film’s star, Ola Orebiyi, who gives one of the best breakout male performances I have seen. The way he expressed himself in bringing his character to life often gave me chills. Besides the authentic writing and the gripping acting performances, Carey and Desrochers’ directing keeps the story interesting–A Brixton Tale is a melodrama but the pacing never stops nor falters. At times Carey and Desrochers are able to build the tension so high by taking away sound and filling that void with imagery and camera framing that is so dynamic that the setting seems almost palpable. Stories about the trials of young black men in an unforgiving world are particularly heart-wrenching for me, and this is certainly a good one.
God, this movie is so sad, but also oh so good! Though a little predictable in the end, A Brixton Tale is one of those stories where you may find yourself screaming at the screen but that’s what movies are made for–drawing out emotions & eliciting reactions, and Darragh Carey and Bertrand Desrochers’ A Brixton Tale does just that.
A Brixton Tale is currently playing at Slamdance 2021.
7 out of 10