Blue Story review: sobering scenes from the postcode wars

Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu directs and provides a grime chorus to this gritty tale of youth violence expanded from a popular web series.

Rapman on the road to Blue Story: ‘If you can prove it online then why go the film school route?’

Matthew Taylor
Updated:

Blue Story (2019)

With the recent return of lauded inner-city drama Top Boy to our screens, this energetic debut feature from filmmaker and grime artist Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu appears well timed to follow in its slipstream. Expanded from an earlier web series, Blue Story builds its street-level tragedy around the London postcode wars that have blighted so many young black lives in the capital.

Over an opening salvo of CCTV images ripped from the headlines of spiking youth crime, Onwubolu – in his Rapman guise – sets the scene through musical performance. Like Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew in iLL Manors (2012), he serves as a chorus at intervals throughout; his is a similarly grim, cautionary tale delivered in modern style but with the essence of a traditional lament.

Shy Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and the more streetwise Marco (Micheal Ward) have been close friends since childhood, but gradually find themselves pitted against each other when a gang feud erupts between their respective Deptford and Peckham postcodes. Marshalling a teeming cast of youngsters, Onwubolu sometimes struggles to flesh out peripheral characters – one such is Karla-Simone Spence’s love interest, lost too early in proceedings. But his handling of frequently busy location work is punchy and fluid. The emphatic style can be repetitive, but it’s confident work that crucially doesn’t condescend to the youth audience best placed to receive its sobering pacifist message.

 

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