kaos at BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival

 kaos at 
 BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 

Big Words

I'm a '90s kid, one who grew up with the sounds of 2Pac, Warren G, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, The Pharcyde, Jungle Brothers, and De La Soul. So director/writer Neil Drumming's Big Words - about the members of a promising (but short-lived) '90s Brooklyn hip-hop group - was bound to be dead cert hit with me. It almost is.

"John aka Big Words was once in hip hop crew DLP. Years later, while trying to impress a girl, he awkwardly confesses that he was in the Down Low Poets but 'there was nothing gay about that, it was the '90s'. In fact while John and Terry, who is still trying to make a living as DJ Malik, are indeed straight, James (aka Jaybee Da Mac) has come out and is living an affluent life with his partner in Brooklyn, filled with fine wine and nice white lesbian friends."

The best thing about this picture is the cast. Firstly, Darien Sills-Evans (as the obsessive DJ Malik, who's literally stuck in a groove) steals every scene he's in. Dorian Missick - as the titular Big Words - also puts in a strong performance, ably assisted by the lovely Yaya Alafia as Annie. Gbenga Akinnagbe is good too, in the pretty thankless role of James, the group's gay member. (Akinnagbe was due to be at the screening for a Q&A, but was otherwise engaged shooting the new series of 24 elsewhere in London.)

It's with James that the film stumbles. We never really believe he's gay, despite meeting his boyfriend Eddie (Amir Arison). I'd have found it easier to believe Akinnagbe's character was a Martian living amongst us to learn our ways. It takes us back years - to the '90s, perhaps - to a time when you could just say a character's gay, but you didn't have to show it. I guess the filmmakers wanted to avoid offending the straight black audience.

Drumming's direction is a bit flat, too, although maybe that's apt for an exercise in middle-aged navel gazing. Watch it for Sills-Evans: he's superb.

Next: The Last Match

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