• Ellis Barthorpe

Small Axe: Lovers Rock ★★★★

Steve McQueen

Starring Amarah-Jae St Aubyn, Micheal Ward, Shaniqua Okwok, Ellis George

Effortlessly musical, the second film in the Small Axe series is full of tension, romance and an exceptionally supportive soundtrack. When a large group of people come together to party, the difference in relationships and respect shape an evening that is full of song and dance.

This is a celebration of black lives that this country and countries around the world need, and the cast perform that celebration admirably.


Amarah-Jae St Aubyn is a sensation. She carries the story (though there is very little story to be told) and pours emotion from every orifice. Her story is the only through narrative that takes place, and eventually gets completed. That being said, it would be a stretch to claim that this film has any plot. It is purely showing black culture and the music, soul and party that intoxicates that community. And yes, that makes the film even more of a celebration but it does lack a sense of structure that would make for a more complete project. The shots are intriguingly long and sometimes I was left hopeful for a quicker movement, but the film still gently rolled along.


This picture shows how humans can have power and courage through their vulnerability, and although on the surface things seem so joyous and rapturous, there is an undertone of tension that is complemented by an incredible soundtrack. The Silly Games scene in particular is so moving, and along with many other musical moments it complements the rise and fall in chaos and tranquility.

It's no understatement that Steve McQueen has bestowed upon himself an impossible task, telling five stories of black lives in such a short space of time; but if Lovers Rock is anything to go by, he may have created something revolutionary.


Lovers Rock available now on BBC iPlayer

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