By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
A voyeuristic, wealthy vlogger finds herself drawn to a handsome, shy youth from the infamous Barrier Block housing project, in South London. Their relationship with each other, and with the camera, leads them down a dangerous path.
This is another film where a young Black man is led down a precarious path. In this case, Benji is smitten with the big, bright eyes of the young white videographer, Lea, who in the end is left unblemished, while Benji goes to jail.
Lea, played by Lily Newmark, lives a privileged life and she is working on a project that only seems to get more exciting when she happens upon Benji and his buddy. She attaches herself to Benji and next they become intimate. When Lea gets more and more interesting footage from the other side of the tracks, so to speak, her instructor urges her to get even grittier footage—not scenes with Lea as the centerpiece.
When Lea obliges her instructor and shows her video at a gathering of the rich, Benji is heartbroken because he is portrayed as a thug—counter to the way he has dressed for the occasion.
Eventually, Lea is disrespected at a party, and Benji defends her womanhood, and afterward he is arrested and sent to jail for a short time. All the while, Lea resumes her life as a videographer—her career is unscathed, and all is well in her world.
This film addresses social and economic disparities, racial tensions, interracial relationships and drug addiction. It highlights the ever-growing fascination with exposing people’s lives through the ever-ending cell phone camera or other recording device.
Lea is wealthy and Benji isn’t. She is intrigued by what she sees on the streets and uses this imagery to further her agenda. Benji isn’t all innocent in this film; he is thrilled that a red-haired white girl finds him attractive—an attraction that will only benefit the red-haired white girl.
A critic on Rotten Tomatoes wrote: “There’s a nervy energy to this feature debut from Darragh Carrey and Betrand Desrochers, who show a flair for visual storytelling even if the narrative ultimately treads a predictable path.”
Ola Orebiyi plays Benji, and this is his first lead role. “A Brixton Tale” premiered at the recent Slamdance Film Festival.
Visit https://www.abrixtontale.com/ for more information.