Raw energy can only get you so far…
While there are many elements in a film like Blue Story that ring poignant, raw and true it also shows its colours with some very basic storytelling that we’ve seen far too many times before.
Best friends Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and Marco (Micheal Ward) go to the same high school in Peckham, but live in neighboring London boroughs. When Marco’s beaten up by one of Timmy’s primary school friends the two boys wind up on rival sides of a never-ending cycle of gang war in which there are no winners …only victims.
Being an upper middle class white guy, I certainly can’t deny the authenticity of these narratives, but Blue Story while it does have some decent performances and an interesting structure making it a borderline musical it’s just a little too late to the dance to resonate as genuinely memorable.
The debut feature from writer/director Rapman (aka Andrew Onwubolu) isn’t without some very positive flares as he makes the entire experience bristling with energy on a level that is basically operatic in style. Crafting that energy into the violence and existence of gang life go together like peanut butter and jelly; sure we’ve seen it all before but it’s hard to deny that the combination of it all works exceptionally well. The characters and the overall writing does feel more than a little lived through then you might like, but it always feels honest. Nothing here is reinventing the wheel, but you can’t help but see the bristling potential in what Rapman is bringing to the screen as a visual storyteller.
The leads are strong and the film actually thrives on the fact that it is using mostly unknown and relatively inexperienced leads. Anyone with name value would have actually diminished the overall power of the story. Sadly outside the two primary leads and a small handful of other characters there isn’t a lot of character development here but we care enough about the struggles of these two former friends turned into bitter enemies.
There’s really nothing here that is bringing anything new to the table when it comes to turf wars and the complexities of young male masculinity (especially when it comes to young black men in the project communities) but Blue Story works because of the bristling potential in not only the slight narrative shifts that Rapman applies the story but in the unbridled energy in the story. It’s hard a new one, but it’s honest and filled with a relevancy that is hard to ignore.