MOVIE REVIEW: Blue Story brings the life of gangsters in London to the big screen with a touch of rap music.
Director: Andrew Onwubolu
Starring: Stephen Odubola and Michael Ward
The world thirsts for gripping black content, even as irrelevant entities such as the Academy Awards and the Grammys keep ignoring black talent. We still generate stories that compel, excite and hold a mirror to the face of society’s ugliest truths, in the hopes of extinguishing them. African flavour is in demand, ask Sho Madjozi or Burna Boy. When Africa excels, so too does the diaspora.
Blue Story is about the hard streets of east London, UK, where two young friends are pitted against each other due to the governing council deciding to house them and their families in different neighbourhoods. What block you’re from and who you know – who you’re riding with – matter in life, as they do in this film. We see two factions go against each other in the hopes of street credibility and control over turf. In the grand scheme of things, neither of these reasons makes any sense.
The ghetto boys and the pagans can’t stand each other, all based on locality. Peckham is an impoverished place – bear in mind that poverty in the UK doesn’t look so bad through African eyes, but they have all the other stuff we do in the trap; drugs, egos and guns.
Timmy and Marco start as friends with a strong connection and are loyal to one another. They are constantly harassed about their affiliations even though neither of them bangs for a gang. Marco has a brother who does, and he’s always looking to get Marco inducted; quite a familiar story.
This whole film has a strong Top Boy feel to it, not to mention that a few of the actors in this movie were also in the newest version of the television crime drama.
A rift develops between Marco and Timmy as a result of a horrible crime, leaving Timmy with a lust for vengeance and Marco behind bars.
The story heats up three years later when both young men are done with school and have fallen to life in a gang. It all plays out like a ghetto musical, with Rapman (Andrew Onwubolu) providing narration to the story, through raps. At first, as is the case with any musical, you’re inclined to think, “WTF”, but it begins to make sense and the synergy between the music and visuals gels, giving it something more than just an extended music video feel. At one stage, someone suits up for action on the streets – black gear, a strap and gloves – and as the narration lists each item, the character tucks the gun and pulls the gloves on at the same time.
The “blue” in the title might have something to do with the flags or bandanas brandished by the gangs, or the dreaded and saddening blue tinge of police sirens that appear when something terrible happens.
You may get lost in the language used, such as “Man them did this and man said that”, as well as weird words like ‘ching’ which means ‘stab’, but it makes the film so much better. The swanky intermixture of patois and American Ebonics with this London twang is the reason for the success of British genres such as garage, jungle, grime and, more recently, drill. The creators do well to show off the rich combination in the soundtrack, which I’ve been streaming since.
The story has hard-hitting and heavy moments that will leave you marinading in the pointlessness of gang banging. The imagery is of desperate futility, a plague of the soul that stretches from the depths of the third world to the lofty crystal cities of the first.