A Moving Image

 

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Questions about the changing face of Brixton in London are posed in this first feature.

 
A Moving Inage


 

The changes wrought by time are especially apparent in big cities and it is a process that is often hastened by special factors. An obvious example can be found in those areas of London where developers in search of profits seek to transform them through gentrification. One such southern area to which this applies is Brixton and that is a subject of particular concern to Shola Amoo. Consequently, following a series of short films made by him, it has become the central issue treated in his first feature as writer and director, A Moving Image.

 

In this film Tanya Fear plays Nina who can surely be viewed as a female surrogate figure for Amoo himself. She is an artist returning to Brixton where she had been born intent now on involving herself in an arts project which may or may not become a film but which will in any case find her investigating her responses to changes in the area. Not being black like so many living there including the performer and musician Ayo (Aki Omoshaybi) and having been away from Brixton for some time, Nina finds that questions are arising as to her own standing and suitability when commenting on the scene.

 

The most appealing aspect of A Moving Image lies in its distinctive feel. Although it incorporates actual interviews with local inhabitants and was indeed shot on location, all the main roles are played by actors. Even so, Amoo's film brings to mind such classic documentaries as Karel Reisz's We Are the Lambeth Boys (1958), but when Nina's endeavours do indeed yield a film it is apparent that her supposed movie is essentially the one that we are watching. It's an approach that can be thought of as yielding limited dividends since the film is a bit of a mishmash. Alongside the documentary touches are some arty visual effects including jump-cuts and slow motion and the movie is ready to stop in its tracks to incorporate a full-length song performed in the street with lyrics that compare South London with Brooklyn. More seriously, the film features an undeveloped romantic triangle featuring Nina, Ayo and a white actor named John (Joe Layton)   which takes up time yet reflects on the general situation less tellingly than Amoo seems to suppose. Indeed, for all its topicality, A Moving Image is more ready to ask questions than to embrace any specific detailed viewpoint.

 

In essence, then, this feels like a film of bits and pieces. Nevertheless, it has its own spirit, its own signature, and it concludes with what in the circumstances proves to be an ideal last line.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Tanya Fear, Hussina Raja, Alex Austin, Aki Omoshaybi, Yinka Oyewole, Ysra Daley-Ward, Joe Layton, James Hamilton.

 

Dir Shola Amoo, Pro Rienkje Attoh, Screenplay Shola Amoo, Ph Felix Schmilinsky, Art Dir Tamar Clarke-Brown, Ed Mdhamiri a Nkemi, Music Segun Akinola, Costumes Cobbie Yates.

 

A Moving Image Productions-Verve Pictures.
74 mins. UK. 2016. Rel: 28 April 2017. Cert. 15.