Monday, 4 July 2011

Film Review: Anuvahood

Kidulthood, Adulthood, and Shank have all marked a torrent of films in recent years attempting to explore the darker side of British youth culture. One face which has been prevalent in these urban dramas is Adam Deacon, who has now taken it upon himself to add a lighter spin to what is otherwise a dismal and surly genre.

Wannabe M.C. Kenneth (Deacon), or 'K' as he likes to be known, is a delusional, self-proclaimed 'badman'. In reality he lives a directionless existence, mostly 'cotching' with his equally unremarkable friends. When a new Spanish kid, Enrique (Barbieri), arrives in the hood and 'K' finds he must help his own financially impoverished family, events soon get out of hand.

Anuvahood tries to be to Kidulthood what Don't Be A Menace was to Boyz n the Hood. Even use of the suffix, 'hood', is a cheeky little nod to Noel Clarke's franchise. However, Deacon's 'spoof' of the very films that made him is patchy at best. From the off, the film soon descends into a tirade of incoherency. While Anuvahood is supposed to be a parody, it never quite settles its tone. Compounding this disparity are the one-dimensional characters. When you've got half the cast acting in a farcical manner and the other with a serious face something appears amiss, resulting in an inconsistant string of satire and sobriety. It's like trying to blend ice cream and pickles.

That's not to say that Anuvahood isn't funny in places. Kenneth's delusional 'hype' juxtaposed with his unimpressive reality is the film's main source of laughs. Richie Campbell's outrageous and contemptible Tyrone, basically the hood's bully, is also subject to absurd comic moments. However, Tyrone is also part of Anuvahood's main problem. He is so ludicrous that he sends the entire tone of the film out of sync.

Underneath Anuvahood however there is a somewhat dingy undercurrent. It permeates a strange double-edged tale of morality and social commentary. In the end, the bully gets his comeuppance, but only at the hands of an even bigger bully. Indeed, drug dealer (Wil Johnson) is portrayed as some sort of protector of the community. While one evil is done away with, the larger spectre, that of the drugs on the street that ruin these communities, is never dealt with. The only interest this 'community-minded' dealer has in keeping the peace is so his sale of drugs can continue uninterrupted. This acts as both a disheartening acceptance of the realities an abandoned portion of society is left to deal with, but also as a damning criticism of the government turning a blind eye to these proverbial ghettos. By the end it's actually quite deflating. This is no tale of aspiration, merely promoting the idea that it's better to stick with your lot and keep your head down.

Anuvahood tries to make something out of an otherwise uninspiring situation. It is just about a bunch of kids with nothing better to do who suddenly have a mildly eventful week. This will appeal to its ancillary inspiration - those who will understand its copious amount of street-slang banter. But if you were to ask anyone else whether "ya get me?", the answer would most likely be no. As a word of warning, you'll probably need subtitles.