A Brixton Tale
Promising young stars Lily Newmark (Pin Cushion) and Ola Orebiyi (Limbo, which also screened at GFF) give solid performances in A Brixton Tale, the feature debut from directing duo Darragh Carey and Bertrand Desrochers. In this story of star-crossed lovers set in modern England, middle-class filmmaker Leah (Newmark) is looking for a subject for her new documentary. While wandering the streets looking for inspiration, she finds Benji (Orebiyi), a mild-mannered youth from an estate. The pair ignite a friendship that soon blossoms into romance. However, tensions grow when Benji questions whether Leah is using him as a steppingstone to further her career.
A Brixton Tale is an ambitious first feature from its directors. In addition to constructing a touching central romance, the filmmakers also take a stab at deconstructing issues of class, race, drugs, and toxic masculinity within contemporary British culture. And, for the most part, it sticks. Through spending time with one another, each character gains a poignant insight into the other’s world. Leah sees the shadows of addiction, gang culture and racism, whilst Benji gets a first-hand experience of the snobbish behaviour of Leah’s over-privileged friends. Scenes of Benji and his friend (Craige Middleburg, another talented newcomer) playing FIFA and smoking marijuana contrasting with the cocaine-fuelled parties of Leah’s peers may be a rather rudimentary way of framing the chasm between classes, though the imagery works well enough here.
The success of this feature hinges upon the chemistry between Newmark and Orebiyi, both of whom are excellent. Neither needs to go over-the-top to convey the gambit of emotion the pair go through, which makes for a far more genuine and authentic tone. And when events do become more dramatic, they feel part of the world that’s been created.
That is until the final act, however, where pivotal decisions are as much out of nowhere as they are out of character. This is especially true for Leah whose stance shifts dramatically from one scene to the next, a move that demolishes the foundations that have been built and re-built between these characters. The ending is a disheartening one, though not for the reasons the filmmakers intended.
A Brixton Tale does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.