There’s something distinctively theatrical – almost Shakespearean – about this very urban movie from writer/director Rikki Beadle Blair. That’s not surprising really as it’s an adaptation of his stage play of the same name.
But that’s not a bad thing: because of the stagey structure, dialogue, and use of music to break up the action, the viewer remains constantly aware that this is a work of fiction. And it helps to be reminded that this is just a story, because some of the events that occur are very upsetting and difficult to watch.
That’s not to say that many of the events and scenarios presented don’t occur in real life – sadly they do. But this is where Beadle Blair has worked magic. By making light of serious issues such as racism, homophobia and class, he allows the audience to think about them safely rather than from a place loaded with anger, disbelief, shock or opinion.
So here’s the story. JJ (Joel Dommett) is a white musician who loves black culture. He really wants to make it as an MC in London’s urban music scene and is taking part in a competition. But when he brings his sensitive boyfriend Orlando (Marcus Kai) along to watch, it doesn’t go down too well with the other performers who regularly sing songs with notoriously homophobic lyrics. As a result, Orlando is brutally attacked by a group of angry rappers (three black, one white) and left brain-damaged.
In the events that follow, all the characters learn lessons about race, sexuality, class and simply friendship and happiness, but this doesn’t happen in a heavy, preaching way. The messages are hard-hitting yes, but also very funny. In fact, the rest of the story unfolds in a very refreshing, thought-provoking, and utterly fantastical way.
It’s a film that may irritate if you’re expecting something urban and gritty. This is very much a fairytale, but there’s fun to be had as the film drives towards its splendidly ridiculous ending. Some hilarious lines (especially from shopgirl Karisma – Jennifer Daley – brilliant) weave with some truly touching scenes to produce a highly entertaining portrait of discrimination. As the story unfolds it really does stretch credulity to the limits, but go with it and you’ll have fun.
Bashment is released on DVD by Peccadillo Pictures on 23rd September.