Review: Yardie

Starting in Jamaica 1973 and taking us all the way to Hackney 10 years later, Idris Elba’s directorial debut follows D (played by the insanely impressive Aml Ameen) who grows up in the midst of a gang war in Kingston. After suffering first hand through this war, he soon becomes involved with King Fox (Sheldon Shepard), a music producer and don of Kingston. D is sent to London to finalise a drug deal, but things begin spiralling out of control and with the reappearance of his childhood love, D must choose which path he wants to walk down.

…If you’re looking for a performance that’s going to unfairly fly under the radar this year, you’ve found (it).

Yardie presents D with the question about what path he is going to take immediately. Obviously the more righteous path is what he and the audience want, but due to a host of unforeseen circumstances, he is constantly conflicted. Aml Ameen sells this confliction and carries the entire film with ease. He plays the family man, tortured soul, comic relief and threatening gangster all within 102 minutes. If you’re looking for a performance that’s going to unfairly fly under the radar this year, you’ve found one of the most deserving of your attention here.

…the film highlights how time doesn’t always heal wounds.

Throughout, Yardie tackles the impact grief has on the youths caught in a world they shouldn’t be subjected to. Obviously we see how D deals with this growing up, but it’s not only him. His childhood love Mona (Naomi Ackie) may have escaped West Kingston’s violence, but D’s reappearance brings back memories she wants to forget. All the youths we see grown up are haunted by their past and the film highlights how time doesn’t always heal wounds.

…you are fully transported into that world (DJ Culture) and feel like a participant, not an onlooker

Music is a big part of why everything fits together throughout Yardie. Songs like Johnny Was by Skip Marley have lyrics that correlate to events that have transpired, really hitting home key parts of the films’ narrative. When D journeys into one of the many places that epitomises DJ culture, you are fully transported into that world and feel like a participant, not an onlooker. Elba’s DJ career no doubt helps add to the authentic feels of these scenes. Moving from room to room feels natural and while a lot works in the film, these moments are the stand out.

…even if there is a main target audience, if the film is good enough, it can connect with anyone.

I had no prior knowledge to the issues Yardie tackles and in all honesty I’m probably not the intended audience. But I strongly believe that even if there is a main target audience, if the film is good enough, it can connect with anyone. It seems critical consensus disagrees, but I was a big fan. Elba has added to a strong year of directorial debuts and Aml Ameen is an actor I will be keeping a very close eye on.

9/10

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