The Harder They Fall
The feature-length directorial debut of British songwriter and filmmaker Jeymes Samuel, The Harder They Fall, tells a fictional story about real Black legends of the Old West. It follows Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), who reassembles his gang to take revenge on the outlaw who murdered his parents when he was just ten years old, the notorious Rufus Buck (Idris Elba).
It’s a classic tale of revenge in the Wild West, but the film reinvigorates the genre with generous heaps of style in every aspect of its production, from the cinematography to the sound design. While on paper the story is not particularly treading any new ground, a lot of effort has clearly gone into making the movie feel fresh and exciting, and that effort has definitely paid off.
The script makes full use of its simple premise to facilitate some great action scenes, which are aided by some engaging camerawork, and the narrative is able to go from intense and bloody to charming and funny without losing momentum. This writing is supported by a very talented cast, who all work to make each character compelling and memorable, despite the size of the ensemble.
As is befitting of a Western, there are a lot of bloody gunfights and tense showdowns, and the direction works to give each of these scenes its own distinct visual identity to ensure there isn’t a dull moment. The visuals are consistently stunning and help the Old West come to life, emerging as much of a character just as much as its cast.
The Harder They Fall also showcases Samuel’s years of experience in the music industry with its excellent score, mixing genres and styles to represent the fusion of the old and new that this film reflects as a whole. The soundtrack is a highlight of Black talent across the years, from Bob Marley to Shyne, celebrating oft overlooked parts of musical history, just as its script focuses on the unseen Black narratives of the Old West’s history.
The Harder They Fall is a fantastic directorial debut for Jeymes Samuel. It works within an uncomplicated story but brings more than enough style and flair to make it consistently engaging, and celebrates the Black experience in both history and the present throughout.
The Harder They Fall is released nationwide on 22nd October 2021.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Harder They Fall here: