Steve McQueen directs Kenyah Sandy, Sharlene Whyte and Tamara Lawrance in this teen period drama where a bright black British boy is dumped into a pointless “special school” after a few misdemeanours in class.
The final Small Axe film is the most naturally entertaining, the one that resonated with my childhood the most and the closest that one got to bringing me to tears. The scene where Kingsley’s mother tests him on his reading ability just crushes your heart. I struggled at primary school in certain areas and more often than not faced punishment and castigation until I reached secondary school and handwriting was not deemed quite as important as content. I can recognise a lot of what Kingsley went through in class – the restless infractions, the segregation and kinda know… I was lucky to be white and born just a few years later. Despite the hard hitting subject matter… this is the funniest of McQueen’s explorations of black British life from when he and I grew up in West London. It also ends on a warmer moment of hope than the other films. I’m going to give the lauded Lovers Rock another try soon, but for me this and especially Mangrove were the highlights of a year defining project.
Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/