BASHMENT

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 18th June 2011 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Rikki Beadle-Blair (Fit / KickOff)

Cast: Joel Dommett, Nathan Clough, Ludvig Bonin, Jason Steed, Toby Wharton, Marcus Kai, Michael Hewitt, Arnie Hewitt, Jennifer Daley, Cole Dines, Jack Shalloo with Gary Beadle and Duncan MacInnes

Writer: Rikki Beadle-Blair

Trailer: BASHMENT

50443980_700x700min_1To be proofread: London based film/theatre collective Team Angelica‘s latest film is their least likeable. One man force of nature Rikki Beadle Blair (KICKOFF) and his repertory team of talented young actors turn their focus to homophobia in Hip Hop music with mixed results. Where Beadle-Blair’s earlier films KickOff and Fit won me over was with their light touch. The humour was quick witted and every bit as funny as better known camp classics like The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and La Cage Aux Folles. However Bashment swaps the comedy and brevity for deservedly earnest material but the melodrama hits the dual set backs of being over preachy and unconvincing. Beadle-Blair’s hip-hop credentials can’t be argued with, his half-brother, who co-stars (GARY BEADLE – EASTENDERS) was a rapper in one of the UK’s very first rap groups The City Limits Crew and although I’m not sure, Beadle-Blair may have been a member. Any with that said, the film is still a bit left-footed with quite a number the plot beats ringing false.

JJ (or Gay Gay) (JOEL DOMMETT) is a white MC on the predominantly black Grime Hip Hop scene. He takes his openly gay boyfriend Orly (MARCUS KAI) along to an open-mic MC battle for moral support. Unfortunately, they get into a life threatening punch-up with the Illford Gun Clappers (NATHAN CLOUGH, LUDVIG BONIN, JASON STEED and TOBY WHARTON) which leaves JJ ‘outed’ and Orly in a coma.  The offending group defend their position by claiming that the ‘homosexual MCs’ provoked them. They  end up serving a very light sentence in jail, and as their release date nears, their original public defender (MICHAEL LINDALL – KICKOFF) rallies with the victims to examine the homophobic song lyrics and ask the question, ‘did the music make them do it?’

Hip Hop music has gained infamy for it’s homophobic stance and it’s long been debated whether there’s a place in the music for gay rappers at all. Beadle-Blair touches on this issue, as well as white fetishism of all things ‘black.’ Conversation even begins to revolve around whether being gay disqualifies you from being black and a betrayal of race at one crucial point (yes there are people who really think this!)  Characters talk at length, often angrily about being black and gay. But the sheer number of issues at the heart of Bashment over balance the whole film. It’s many messages get lost in a pile of half realised ideals and some clunky dialogue. Some judicious editing would have been the way. Some radical character u-turns towards the end smack of wishful thinking and fail to convince even on iota. But on the positive side, the fact that Bashment exists to highlight these very real problems is good, it just needed distilling. His other films are more successful because the writing works.

Bashment is served well by a very committed cast. There’s not a single weak link – although Marcus Kai has trouble pulling off his really difficult character Orly.   As with all the Beadle-Blair there are a bundle of plot strands that end up resembling The Thing or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where some seemingly straight characters had been hiding their true gay selves all the way along. One character in particular has a completely unconvincing ‘outing.’  This device in the earlier KickOff and Fit actually worked because the films themselves concerned themselves directly with gay identity, in Bashment it just seems unnecessary and forced in order to win points for the ‘gays.’

4 out of 10 – It’s 2 out of 3 wins for Team Angelica at Britpic so far. It’s an endlessly interesting topic that could have done with less brute force and a bit less militancy to get it’s very good set of points home. Sadly this is overcooked and full of forced ironies not to mention stunt defying soap operatics!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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