Slamdance 2021 Review: A Brixton Tale

Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde

50/100

A Brixton Tale the first feature film from Darragh Carey and Bertrand Desrochers, unfortunately failed to connect with me. I believe it may do better with audiences in the United Kingdom who are more familiar with the social and class commentary that is going on within the picture. I was intrigued by the presence of footage shot in collaboration with community members. I usually think that this local knowledge in and of the community elevates a film, but that flourish was lost on me here. 

The film tells the story of the tumultuous, toxic, and fractured relationship between Leah, a vlogger, and Benji. The closest comparison I can make of this film is that it is vaguely reminiscent of Waves (2019) and Euphoria (2019) but with none of the polish those projects offered. Whereas, Waves and Euphoria were able to make American experiences somewhat universal, A Brixton Tale misses that mark, it was hard to connect at any level with what I was seeing on screen. I’ll be the first to admit that stories don’t have a responsibility to be universal but it was challenging for me to come up with any redeeming qualities that would justify the experience this details or any reason to make me want to rewatch it.  

I’ll concede that the directors did try to do something new by blurring the reality of Leah and Benji’s relationship and her documentary on screen but that is not enough to sustain the feature. The most effective part of the film was when we were getting Leah’s first person account of what was happening while reviewing footage on her computer screen. I really wish this first person narrative was explored in greater detail because it would’ve allowed me to form a deeper connection with the characters and understand where they were coming from.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

WAVES

Written by Taylor Baker

98/100

To better express my emotions regarding this film I will quote Lorde sampling Paul Simon on the song Hard Feeling/Loveless.

“What is this tape? This is my favourite tape!”

Paul Simon

Trey’s ability to use the formalism of multiple film genres to queue the viewer into the happenings before they occur is sickeningly delicious and masterful. The weaving of image, time, and soundtrack work immaculately from a visual perspective. But, it’s the feeling and the feelings that transfer through the piece to the viewer that’s simply sublime. Only comparable to Malick at his best for me. In a sensory amalgam this effort lands somewhere beautiful between The New World, American Honey, and Moonlight. Schultz has cemented himself as the equivalent of a filmmaker who is practically an institution in much the same way that Nolan, Iñárritu, Villeneuve and Anderson(both) have.

A lock for multiple spots on my various Best/Top of 2019 lists. Don’t be afraid to make it one of yours, just remember to go in with an empty bladder and an open heart.

Enjoy!

Taylor Baker originally published this review on Letterboxd 12/11/19

Discussed on Drink in the Movies Episode 56.

Available for rent from most services.