Sundance London 2018 Preview - Yardie
Dir: Idris Elba
Starring Aml Ameen, Stephen Graham, Naomi Ackie, Fraser James
Idris Elba makes an impressive directorial debut in this adaptation of Victor Hedley’s ‘90s novel of Jamaican gang wars spreading from Kingston of the ‘70s to the London streets of the early ‘80s. Elba effectively captures both environs and the singular culture than runs between them, in the story of Dennis Campbell – “D” – who becomes increasingly caught up in a drug dealing battle, as he seeks to avenge the killing of his brother years before in a Jamaican turf war.
Ameen dominates proceedings impressively as the adult D, fighting to reconcile his history with his desire to move on. He is ably met by a strong supporting cast all round, with Stephen Graham thoroughly enjoying himself as he veers from a heavy Jamaican accent to manic coke fuelled impressions of Scarface.
Elba offers fidelity to the native accent and language of his characters, mixing heavy accents with native patois, something retained to strong effect in creating an enclosed community feel to the London scenes.
The movie does however start to feel weaker in its second half, as Elba the DJ seeks to throw in a subplot based around a clash of the local sound systems, which dissipates the action of the film, especially when D starts to sing his revenge song! And the movie’s denouncement does feel a bit pat in conclusion.
But for the most part, Idris’ debut behind the camera is assured and powerful for the majority of its running time.
The Sundance Film Festival '18 London runs from May 31 to June 3
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