A Brixton Tale takes a while to find its stride, but when it does it becomes a relentless and compelling tale of love, racism and class. Outstanding performances from Ola Orebiyi and Craige Middleburg.
A Brixton Tale is about a wealthy youtuber, Leah, who spots Benji in the street and decides to make him the subject of her documentary about Brixton. Whilst hanging out the two of them fall for each other, but Leah’s desire for edgier material leads them down a very dangerous path with irrevocable consequences.
This feature length film is short at 76 mins and it feels as if the first twenty minutes or so are somewhat wasted context setting rather than throwing us into the action. Instead, we, the audience, are given repeated cues of how Leah is wealthy compared to Benji who lives on an estate.
However, once the shift in tone happens, the police harassment because he’s black and Leah arguing because it’s clear she’s never experienced this, the film properly begins. After this point, the tension and tone positively pulsate and the performance of Ola Orebiyi who conveys the discomfort he feels liking this stranger and yet feeling used by her is mesmerising.
Where A Brixton Tale falls short is in the character of Leah (Lily Newmark) which feels one dimensional. We never really understand her motivation for what she is doing, it all feels very superficial. Rich girls trying to be edgy have been shown on screen before, what we needed was more. In actual fact, all the female characters feel thinly drawn and none are given much time of space to develop.
I would have liked more of Craige Middleburg on screen, his performance of the young crack addict who loses it all is definitely a highlight of the film. The two hander scene between him and Ola is heartbreaking as it is riveting to watch. They both convey what they have lost through the way they look at each other. It’s one of the best scenes in the entire film.
A Brixton Tale was released on 12 February 2021.
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