Feature adaptation of Rapman’s YouTube series about two young friends who become rivals in a street war.
You have most likely heard of ‘Blue Story’ because of the controversy linked to it, with several cinema chains pulling the film as a result of violent incidents at cinemas in different parts of the country. If this is all you knew, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a film that encourages and glorifies gang violence, when in fact it’s the exact opposite and I thought it was a frankly terrific movie that deserves to be talked about for its considerable good points. It’s a film about the self-perpetuating cycle of violence in a part of London with a significant gang problem, and it tells it from the point of view of those caught up in it, showing how easy it is to be drawn into this environment.
Set in South East London, the film tells the story of Timmy (a tremendous Stephen Odubola), a young kid from Lewisham who goes to school in Peckham, travelling between two areas with gangs who hate each other. His best friend in Peckham is Marco (Micheal Ward) and both are inseparable when we first meet them, but their respective backgrounds and decisions made, some of which are out of their control, lead them down very different paths. The film follows Timmy’s life over several years as he goes through his teens and finds himself caught up in the violence, whether he wants to be involved or not. The film takes a turn on one fatal act, and ‘Blue Story’ shows how the chain of destruction that follows sweeps up everyone in its path, destroying families, communities and leads to history repeating itself.
The film is written and directed by Andrew Onwubolu (otherwise known as ‘Rapman’), an artist turned filmmaker who has based this story largely on his experiences growing up in a similar environment to the title character, and it has a real grit and authenticity to it. The performances are raw and unflinching and it features moments that hit me right in the gut, effectively conveying the consequences of the gang lifestyle to heartbreaking effect. At several points, Rapman provides musical monologues to accompany the action on screen and I thought it was a very effective narrative device that hammers home the points the filmmakers are trying to convey.
The irony of ‘Blue Story’ is that its message is firmly against gang violence and the gang lifestyle, depicting how it consumes and destroys everything, and it’s a film that those who turned up at cinemas carrying weapons would do well to watch, listen and understand the point it’s trying to get across. I thought this was an excellent film and I was invested in and moved by the fates of these characters, and if you can find a cinema near you showing it, I’d recommend going to see it.
Directed By: Rapman
Starring: Stephen Odubola, Micheal Ward, Khali Best, Karla-Simone Spence, Eric Kofi-Abrefa, Kadeem Ramsay and Junior Afolabi Salokun