Sunday, 29 May 2011
Rabbit Review: Attack The Block
The inevitable search for points of reference and the fact that it was produced by the same guys has inevitably resulted in comparisons between Attack The Block and Shaun of the Dead. The comparisons are not helpful. Shaun of the Dead was North London and overwhelmingly white, Attack The Block is South London, seriously multiracial and funnier, scarier and with an underlying moral grounding not to be found in Shaun of the Dead. Don't get me wrong - Shaun etc is a quality film, sharp and sassy but Attack The Block is a different class.
Sub-titled Inner City meets Outer Space. The plot is set around a gang of feral teens from a South London estate and a young nurse who they make the acquaintance of (by robbing her) played by Jodie Whittaker shortly before aliens starting crashing out of the sky to the estate and surrounds. The first alien crashes through the roof of a nearby car just after the robbery and Moses, leader of the gang (played by John Boyega - the star of the show) kills it. Bad move. Given psycho aliens with row after row of dayglo razor sharp teeth it's best not to piss them off.
The script zings. One exchange I liked was...
Q Why of all the places in the world would aliens attack a shitty council estate in South London?
A Maybe they were looking for a fight.
The aliens get a fight from the teen gang as they defend their estate ('the block'). There are verbal and visual gags aplenty plus a lot of street slang. How the slang will play before wider audiences remains to be seen. Some of it, I suspect, would be incomprehensible in North London let alone North America. I can only wonder how information about a collison between a whip and a bully van plays elsewhere. Having lived in South London for longer than I care to remember and having been involved in the criminal justice syatem for almost as long, I was in the loop but wondered about those outside it. The slang is cleverly limited and repeated so context provides assistance and some is altered for comprehensibility. "Low (pronounced to rhyme with cow') it" becomes "allow it" which helps to make sense of the expression but has never previously seen the light of day save in police versions of things said popping up in criminal trials from time to time. The police generally have a tin ear for street slang and make and endlessly reproduce mishearings (notably 'blood clot' for 'blood clat' (long 'a'), a Jamaican obscenity now absorbed into street English English but I digress.
It's even scary. My companion for the evening screamed (rather loudly) at one point! She went in to see the film unenthusiastically expecting to hate it but came out saying it was brilliant.
It even has a moral. You start off understandably seeing the teen gang as your worst nightmare. They rob Sam, the nice young nurse, at knifepoint in the street. But there is a worse nightmare in prospect - the aliens. Gradually and warily (on both sides) they form an alliance and then a bond with Sam. The unfolding drama becomes redemptive for Moses - some critics have suggested this does not work. I thought it did. Go do yourselves a favour - go see it.
On a personal note, I've had a lot to deal with on all sorts of fronts but I'm still standing and my fur barely singed. More blogging will hopefully follow soon. In the meantime here is some informative stuff.