• Gareth Bradwick

Small Axe: Mangrove ★★★★★

Steve McQueen

Starring Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, Malachi Kirby, Rochenda Sandall, Jack Lowden

The first instalment of the Small Axe anthology portrays the community and the minutiae of Notting Hill in the 60's and 70's.

Outstanding performances from all involved elevates the authentic feel while the direction from Steve McQueen is assured, slick and contemporary. Shaun Parke's performance as Frank Crichlow is a stand out for me as I get a true sense of the weight on his shoulders. Every time the police raid, Frank's exasperation worsens and I get another reminder of how tired people have become to this day.

The light and shade of this film move in and out of eachother seamlessly. At times you are joyfully tapping along to a musical street party and then within a heartbeat you are forced to linger on images that are difficult to bare. Running through even the darkest of moments there is a sense of humour and a personable touch which lets the film stand above many other courtroom dramas.

There is a sense that this anthology could spark a change in what stories are told in the U.K. Now is an opportunity to share stories that until recently have been muted at a national and international level. To move away from the upstairs/downstairs period dramas will be a fine thing; to show the world the fabric of our communities in the way Mangrove does will be even finer.

Mangrove available now on BBC iPlayer

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