Written, directed and narrated by Andrew Onwubolu (AKA Rapman), Blue Story tells the tale of best mates Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and Marco (Micheal Ward), who may go to the same Peckham High School, but live in different boroughs of London which means, in this circumstance, they end up being part of rival gangs, in an ongoing saga of trouble, fights and victims.
Originally 3-part web series Shiro’s Story, Rapman has turned his semi-autobiographical story into this feature and it packs a punch in certain sections, especially the first ‘half’ of the film, but in the latter stages doesn’t quite capture as impressively. However, what is noticeable throughout is the tight feeling of tension in the air and around the characters, and while this is skillfully balanced up to a crucial plot change, once that is taken away, it doesn’t hold your attention as well.
Upon its cinema release, Blue Story was in the news because it was temporarily banned by some cinema chains after gang-related trouble during a screening, nonetheless if you’ve watched it – rather than judged it for assuming the content – you’ll know there’s nothing here to celebrate gang or knife culture, and this makes it important film-making because it takes us inside a world that the majority of us probably never see. These types of films need wider exposure, as it opens up the discussion because this is real-life for some and, you’ll see, there aren’t any winners.
Looking back at the film on its own, leads Timmy (Odubola) and Marco (Ward) are compelling in their roles and how they portray their characters, from friendship to conflict, you believe what they go through. Consequentially, you then accept their dilemmas later on and the reasons why they end up like they go. The pressures are constant, from every angle, and it’s clear the group/gang mentality around you takes away the individual from the decision. The other stand-out work is from Odubola’s Timmy and Karla-Simone Spence’s Leah, who develop an honest, sweet relationship with natural chemistry that helps soften the tough nature of everything else.
An original factor of Blue Story is how writer/director Rapman breaks the fourth wall, for a rap narration/summary in major plot moments. While it could be out of place, it’s smoothly achieved and recaps what’s happened and sets us up for the next scene, or a movement in time. Thankfully though, it’s used sparingly, so never becomes too preachy, just simply informative and it fits the stylistics. I also found the film not unlike a Shakespearian tragedy, in a Montague and Capulet sense, where people die, lovers get tangled in webs, and shit gets real quickly. If this isn’t a world you know, then every word uttered can feel like a matter of life or death, and the screenplay has strong interjections. Situations escalate quickly, which also shows you how quickly things go wrong.
But despite lingering intensity, it doesn’t always hold its compelling edge because we’re always involved so deeply in it. After the early escapism you get with Leah and Timmy’s relationship, once that’s absent, you’re just entangled in a fight to live and maybe – even more so at this time in history – that can be both overwhelming and distracting. While Blue Story might be a tale we’ve seen before, it doesn’t make it any less powerful with its intent and, also, there’s so much talent on display here, so I’m sure there’s more to come from all involved.
Blue Story is available to Download & Keep from the 13th April and on DVD from the 20th April. Order it now https://amzn.to/2Vgvi8u
iTunes and DVD Bonus Features:
- The Cast Of Blue Story
- The Making Of Blue Story
- The Message Of Blue Story
- The Blue Story
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Michael Dapaah And GB Gang
- Killy And Madder Discuss Marco
- Marco At Party – Extended
- Love vs. Sex – Extended
- Killy, Madder And YM Bonding
- Killy And YM Sell Drugs
- Boys On The Bus After Party – Extended
- Madder And Killy Discuss Club Attack