Idris Elba (director)
1h 41m (length)
24 August 2018 (released)
24 August 2018
A great directorial debut for acclaimed actor Idris Elba. Yardie follows the life of D, played by British actor Aml Ameen (Kidulthood). Adapted from Victor Headley’s 1992 novel the story journeys across 20 years of his life in which, early on, he witnesses his older brothers murder. He grows up in Jamaica and is later sent to London to on behalf of one of the two high-level gang leaders in Jamaica. When he arrives in London he quickly makes new enemies and encounters what he believes to be old enemies. Forcing him to battle, not just with his newfound foes, but also with himself. Yardie was a refreshingly authentic movie that people from across all generations can thoroughly enjoy. Something totally different from what you see on the screen nowadays. With a cast hailing from a majority Caribbean background it shows in the sweet homage of representation they give. It was important for Idris Elba to use this kind of cast because it gave true respect to the culture which he choose to portray.
An element this film does lack is enough character development. Through the use of narration, we see years skip by without really knowing in detail what D goes through directly after his brother’s death. The main love interest is also only touched upon in the story, in which suddenly D has a child with. In the early stages we don’t get to know her well enough to warm to her character. It would’ve been easier to relate, as well as understand what these characters were saying if we had perhaps followed them for longer.
A pro to this film, and there are many, is the nostalgic vibes created by the authentic cast and incredible music. Some of the scenes best displaying this are the club scenes in which you feel like you are there in the room with these characters jamming to eighties reggae, which at the time was a hip underground scene. Sheldon Shepard as King Fox, the kingpin who’s taken D under his wing is a stand out performance. The soundtrack all the way through really carries the films vibe. A well thought-out list of classics, including Yellowman’s hit Zungguzungguguzungguzeng (yes that’s how its really spelt!). Although receiving some criticism for being hard to follow, the film is simply made true to the culture by the culture. Aml Ameen has noted that so far the film has “not been played to the right people”, in other words the critics. This sentiment was echoed by Elba’s directorial style. The film is not to please the guardian; it’s to earn the respect of the community it portrays. Elba gave a fresh representation of the black immigrant community, which is not so frequent nowadays. The use of Jamaican patois (although a watered down version) throughout was brave. It has perhaps given someone not use to the culture and language a slightly different task in understanding. Nevertheless if you listen and take it as it is, we can all certainly enjoy it entirely.