Directed by Noel Clarke
Starring Noel Clarke, Arnold Oceng, Adjoa Andho, Leeshon Alexander, Jason Maza
Released on 29th August 2016
Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood, his portrait of disaffected youth in urban London, burst onto screens in 2006. Adulthood followed quickly – just two years later, even though the gap between the two stories was more like six – and now comes the final part of the trilogy, Brotherhood. Clarke says that he’s grown up a lot in those ten years and so has his character, Sam Peel. And he’s equally adamant that this is the final instalment.
Sam’s a family man now, with all the responsibilities that go with it, but his past won’t leave him alone. When his brother Royston (Daniel Anthony) is shot, the trail leads back to an affluent part of West London and crime boss Daly (Jason Maza) – and Curtis (John Cornell), who is hell bent on revenge for the death of his nephew. Determined to protect his family, Sam digs in his heels and tries not to fight back but when the gang goes after somebody he loves, he finds he’s run out of options. Except for one.
This was always a personal project for Clarke, as star, writer and director. The early Sam was headstrong and hard, getting involved in violent crime and eventually being sent to prison. But that was ten years ago and now he’s more settled although, with a past like his, going straight was never going to be easy, let alone an option.
Seeing the other two films in the series isn’t essential but it helps and Clarke seems to assume that you have. He works on the basis that you already know what happened between Sam and Curtis’s nephew, that you understand the relationship between the two and have a handle on Sam’s character. It means you get how he’s changed over the years. If you’re a newbie to the trilogy, what you see is a contemporary London-set drama, with a liberal smattering of violence and sex. And, while Kidulthood might have broken new ground in its day, there’s essentially nothing new about this final part. We’ve been here before. A lot.
As a whole, the film really doesn’t have a great deal going for it. There’s some moments of nice camera work – one chase sequence in particular – and lots of London locations: not the glamourous ones, but tube stations and high streets. But that’s about it, because most of the dialogue isn’t up to much and there are times when the characters are simply delivering speeches rather than talking to each other.
If it does do anything, the film gives Clarke a huge pointer as to his next move. Because the violence and general unpleasantness is balanced with some rather good comedy. That side of things is smartly written and nicely performed, especially by Arnold Oceng as Sam’s friend, the often hapless Henry, who lifts the entire film with the shaggy dog excuses he invents for the benefit of his adoring wife Ashanti (Lashana Lynch). And they get more outlandish as the film moves on. Lynch and Oceng make a genuinely funny double act and their characters clearly have more mileage.
Clarke clearly has a knack for comedy so, with his trilogy wrapped up, taking a leaf out of Dexter Fletcher’s book and choosing a comedy or feel good movie for his next project would be the smart move. Sam Peel’s had his day.
Brotherhood is released in cinemas on Monday, 29 August and will be reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 1 September.