Thursday, 24 October 2013

57th LFF Review: Gone Too Far


Director: Destiny Ekaragha

Writer: Bola Agbaje

Starring: Malachi Kirby, O.C. Ukeje, Michael Maris, Shanika Warren-Markland, Adelayo Adedayo

Synopsis: Once his visa is approved Iku (O.C. Ukeje) comes to London to join his family. His brother Yemi (Kirby) has to show him around and get to know him, but each second with Iku drives Yemi mad.

Gone Too Far’s Peckham-based comedy is anything but humorous. For people living in the area, or similar estates, those with Nigerian family, or fans of simplistic formulas the film will entertain. Nevertheless, judging it from one perspective sees it as a horrific tale of violence, racism and “broken Britain”.

Having won an Olivier award for the play of the same, you’d imagine there to be a lot of heart and depth to this tale of conflicting cultures. Writer Bola Agbaje once said she’d written the play for her parents, a telling problem for the film – shown to a certain audience this would mean something, but most will view it as off-key and bland.

We follow Yemi, a selfish teenager who has to look after his brother after his arrival from Nigeria. As the two brothers head out on an errand for their mother things start to go awry. Almost structured like a Peckham-based Baby’s Day Out featuring an out-of-towner Nigerian instead of a toddler, Gone Too Far is beyond predictable. Certain characters come and go without warning, but the six main characters have unmistakably conventional paths to follow. Formulaic as it is, it doesn’t take away from the fact that there are only two pleasant characters out of the six, making it a taxing viewing experience.

The film shows a comic side to street thugs who are anything but likeable. The notion that any person willing to kill someone (be it the action or a mere threat) could be funny is perplexing. Whilst these characters are not the focus, they are granted a lot of screen-time. Another character called Armani (the self-obsessed, dolled up love interest), given an important strand of the storyline, is yet another figure scratching away at your sense of sanity. Each time she’s on screen you await her comeuppance; the fact that she gets off lightly may be true to life, but in relation to the other positive resolutions, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

The overall message that people are too narrow-minded and often ignorant of each other’s cultures is strengthened at the end, but not before an hour of confused preaching. The jokes aimed at Iku for having an odd fashion taste is inherently childish. What’s more, the two thugs characters who enjoy smoking weed, stealing, and beating others up are occasionally presented as funny – incorrect. It’s distressing to see these sort of people treated in a forgiving light when they are part of problem with this country. If the film manages to discredit their place in this country, then it’s working on some level.

Puerile in its characterisation, Gone Too Far is a hopeless satire on the state of country. It adds to the sub-genre of British cinema focused on council estates, injected with a paradoxically quirky tone, too low-brow and lacking. For some this film will seem profound and entertaining; with the right audience it’ll work. Nevertheless, on the whole, it’s a disheartening look at our developing culture.

Also posted on LiveForFilms

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