There are many people who are technically Judge Josh Rode's blood, but he knows better than to claim them.
Time to get rich or cry trying.
British rapper and actor Adam Deacon (Everywhere and Nowhere) has joined the ever-growing list of actors who want more control and have stepped behind the camera to get it. Anuvahood is Deacon's first attempt at the filming trifecta: writing, directing, and lead acting.
Kenneth (or, as he prefers to be called, "K") is your typical undereducated nobody who lives with his parents, works a minimum wage job, and dreams of bigger things. To make those dreams come true would require some combination of talent, intelligence, drive, luck, or, at the very least, a strong work ethic. K demonstrates none of these, so when he quits his crappy job in a snit, he is left with no money and nothing to do but wander around the neighborhood with his friends, all of whom are just as destitute. Even they abandon him when his weed selling plot goes awry after their stash is stolen by local bully Tyrone (Richie Campbell, Sket). With nothing left to lose, K finally musters the courage to take action…but then must face the consequences.
This synopsis covers the beginning and the end of the film (fear not, spoilers not included). Together, these scenes make up about thirty minutes of the eighty-five minute run time. The other fifty-five minutes are full of aimless wandering, trash talking, comedic angst, and posing; all of which are presumably meant as character building, though none of the characters really develop during that time. In fact, with one exception, all the characters remain exactly the same throughout the film. Anuvahood tries to bill itself as a "coming of age" film, wherein K learns to face his fears and overcome his limitations, but the takeaway point seems to be just the opposite: only after he has tested those boundaries and learned not to fight those limitations does the film allow him a moment of peace (and an unearned hint of a reward).
On the technical side, Deacon the director does a pretty good job. The lighting and composition are generally decent, with good sightlines, and the action never feels congested, which is a feat considering the large number of people on the screen at times. It's Deacon's lack of control over the actors, including, first and foremost, himself, that highlights the film's flaws. Almost everyone goes so far over the top that they disappear beyond the horizon. No one just talks; they yell. K, especially, projects bravado, goes wild at the merest hint that he might not be the gangsta he pretends to be, and basically walks through life without a care for anyone else. Tyrone is even worse; Campbell plays him like a cross between Mike Tyson and Major Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist. He takes what he wants on the grounds that his muscles are much larger than everyone else's, and no one dares oppose him. The only restrained acting in the film comes from crime boss Mike (Wil Johnson, Waking the Dead) and world weary Yasmin (Jaime Winstone, Made in Dagenham), both of whom are present for much too short a time to balance the scales.
Not all is hopeless, though; the dialogue is often quite clever, and the chemistry between the characters is generally good. Everyone might be yelling, but they all seem to be having a really good time, and their enthusiasm gives the film a nice energy that carries the narrative deadweight of the middle two-thirds of the film. Given a more focused script and tighter control over the performances, Anuvahood could have been something special. As it is, it's still at least as entertaining as anything Tyler Perry has released in recent years.
The 5.1 Dolby surround is barely adequate; neither the surrounds nor the sub-woofer are used to much advantage. In fact, the alternate 2.0 Dolby stereo is actually more immersive. The heavy accents, which often sound more Jamaican than British, are sometimes difficult to decipher, especially some of the slang. The 2.35:1 anamorphic picture is decent, with little grain or signs of defects. Colors are blanched but balanced. Extras include interviews and a "making of" featurette, both of which are fairly informative and very boring.
Anuvahood is a sloppy directorial debut; the acting is undisciplined, the characters don't really grow, and the intended theme never truly materializes.
Guilty, but released early for good behavior.
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