There was a bit of a furore around this film upon release here in the U.K. An incident surrounding a gang and some machetes led to it being banned at a specific chain over here, in a case of adding two and two and coming up with five, as it transpired that they weren’t even there to see.
There was an uproar and accusations of racism, I’d say it was more a case of profiling than anything else, seeing a case of gang violence and pointing the finger at the film that involves gang violence, it was a short-sighted move from this particular chain, and one they went back on pretty quickly.
Either way, this has no bearing on the review, just a bit of background that might put things into perspective as this is a film heavily focused on the ongoing gang troubles in London. Made by Rapman (real name Andrew Onwubolu) who made his name with series on YouTube, including one which this film gets its name from.
Set in the depths of the London ‘postcode war’ two best friends find themselves on opposite sides of the divide after several misunderstandings and tragic events.
There are several interesting things about Blue Story that makes it stand out from the crowd. One of the best aspects is the rapped narration from Rapman that ties the narrative together, it doesn’t happen enough to be overbearing and nicely fills in gaps that otherwise could have been confusing.
It’s clear that this is a film that comes from passion and experience. Whereas it can come across as slightly hypocritical of its stance against gang violence to go ahead and portray said violence, it realises that pulling punches would do no favours to its case, it’s only by seeing the consequences that we realise the futility of it all.
It serves as a powerful reminder of what’s happening in modern Britain and what the cause might be. It seems clear to me that the filmmaker takes a negative view of violence, one of his narration raps even stating: ‘not trying to justify, just showing what these boys are fighting for.’ Because it’s only be trying to understand these things that positive changes can be made.
While the characters can be a tad interchangeable, with the sheer number of gang members, it would have been hard to make them all stand out, the main characters are well realised and acted. Specifically, the main character Timmy has a believable and well-paced arc that leads him down the darker road of violence and death.
It’s pretty well-paced in general actually, at only an hour-and-a-half long, it never outstays its welcome and I’d say was just the right length to tell its story, share its message and leave us with our thoughts, hopefully having left an impression.
It’s occupied by up-and-coming actors too, which is nice to see. It reminds me of Attack the Block in the way in which it casts young, local actors to play parts written for young, local people. The two leading the way are Stephen Odubola and Micheal Ward, who play Timmy and Marco respectively, two characters who grow apart because of the social climate of gangs, after spending years as best friends, their arcs run in tandem with each other, only separating under the most devastating of circumstances.
All in all, I really enjoyed Blue Story, a dark and gritty tale of modern life in London, made by someone with a clear passion and talent for film-making, and with enough original ideas to make it fresh. A deeply absorbing, surprising film; it also serves as a powerful lesson in the futility of violence, it creates a believable world that is too close to reality for comfort.