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Blue Story - DVD Review

Blue Story

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

RAPMAN’S debut feature Blue Story made headlines for two big reasons following its cinematic release last year: firstly, for being at the centre of a race row after a fight at a London multiplex prompted the film to be banned temporarily. And secondly, because one of its two main stars, Micheal Ward, went on to pick up the EE Rising Star Award at this year’s BAFTAs.

When taking into account the former, the decision to ban it from certain cinemas did seem like an over-reaction. Far from inciting violence, Rapman’s semi-autobiographical tale sought to shine a light on the causes behind gang rivalry in London and other under-privileged areas, as well as how easy it can be to fall in with the wrong crowd.

The second point, Ward’s award, is richly deserved for a performance that really marks him out as a fine young actor to watch. Ward previously grabbed attention in Top Boy but here really grasps the opportunity to make a name for himself.

Plaudits aside, the tale that Blue Story relays is, sadly, fairly familiar, yet no less relevant. Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and Marco (Ward) are friends from rival postcodes (namely, Deptford’s SE8 and Peckham’s SE15), who try to remain that way in spite of the gang war they find themselves increasingly embroiled in.

But while one seems inextricably bound to a life of violence, the other strives for something different and there’s even an evolving romance to factor in, between Odubola’s Timmy and Karla-Simone Spence’s Leah, which is just as nicely played, offering respite from some of the more testosterone driven tensions and providing the film with some much-needed heart and more than a little awkward comedy.

The biggest problem with Blue Story is its sense of familiarity, given that it draws obvious comparisons with the likes of Kidulthood and the aforementioned Top Boy, as well as Boyz N The Hood.

Hence, you find yourself looking for what’s different and judging its overall effect on that. Rapman’s decision to break up proceedings with musical interludes delivered by himself don’t help, pulling you out of the story and feeling a little too gimmicky as a result.

But the power of the performances by a genuinely talented young cast drives the film with an undeniable energy and lays several markers for the future. It’s the performances [and characters] that stay with you, even though the themes have been explored many times before.

The fact that a film like Blue Story still needs to get made is, in its own way, a damning insight into the problems that persist in the kinds of areas that it depicts. There are still lessons that clearly need learning.

Taken on that level, Blue Story has to rate as a success, emerging as both timely and potent enough to stand alongside the similar films in its genre.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 91mins
UK DVD Release: April 20, 2020