Combustible Celluloid
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With: Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Micheal Ward, Shaniqua Okwok, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Ellis George, Francis Lovehall, Daniel Francis-Swaby, Alexander James-Blake, Kadeem Ramsay, Romario Simpson, Jermaine Freeman, Marcus Fraser, Saffron Coomber, Frankie Fox, Dennis Bovell
Written by: Courttia Newland, Steve McQueen, based on a story by Steve McQueen
Directed by: Steve McQueen
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 70
Date: 11/27/2020

Lovers Rock (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Silly Games

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Part of the "Small Axe" 5-film series that debuted on Amazon Prime, the 70-minute Lovers Rock is now my favorite of all Steve McQueen's pictures. A brainy and sober filmmaker, McQueen usually focuses on sermons and social issues, but with one of his films, Shame, he took a sharp turn and explored human sexuality. Here he turns to human sensuality as he depicts the events of a house party in West London in the 1980s. It begins as DJs set up their equipment as food is prepared, and Martha (Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) sneaks out to get dressed at a friend's house. Much of the evening is spent on the dance floor, grooving to reggae music, as the DJ chats and raps over the beats, the bodies bobbing and swaying and singing in the increasingly sweaty, sultry atmosphere. There's some flirting and sexual advances, and even a possible threat of violence. I fully expected the other shoe to drop at some point — McQueen is not exactly a feel-good filmmaker — and for things to turn sour or explode. But, miraculously, Lovers Rock is more about a mood, being a community, and letting go, at least for a little while.

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