From the very first second of this film it is all Gritty McGrit Grit…and very little else. Usually urban dramas fly by in a blur of nonsensical shanks and sex but sadly Offender happens pretty much entirely in slow motion. The film drags on for what seems like longer than the main character’s prison sentence, with very little by means of redemption along the way. The inmates are rowdy and the screws are bent. Sadly that’s not a statement about the prison’s structural integrity. Even that would have been more interesting than Offender.
First there was Kidulthood, then there was Adulthood, now there’s Anuvahood. With original writer/director Noel Clarke having absolutely nothing to do with this one it’s up to Kidulthood co-star Adam Deacon to assume the role of writer/director and somehow turn the middling urban drama into comedy gold.
When the film Adulthood was released in UK cinemas in June 2008, its opening weekend grossed more money than the freshly released Sex and the City. In the wake of its success, a spate of new and gritty urban films has been drawing audiences to cinemas in increasing numbers, with films such as Shank and Dead Man Running bringing new vigor to the UK film industry. Despite their success, though, the issue of black representation is never far away. With a panel debate titled “The New Blaxploitation?” taking place as a part of London’s Across the Street, Around the World festival, Best For Film went to investigate.
The weight of public expectation can be a heavy burden – it can cripple even the strongest men. In 2006, Noel Clarke wrote and starred in Kidulthood. His gritty portrait of disenfranchised youth culture raised eyebrows and two years later, he wrote, directed and starred in the sequel, Adulthood. The continuation of his emotionally damaged characters was a wake up call to the UK box office, taking an impressive £1.2 million in its opening weekend. Cinemas hurriedly arranged additional screenings and Clarke accepted his newly-minted reputation as the bright young thing of home-grown cinema. There were obvious concerns that he was a one-trick pony. Thankfully not.
Films set in UK inner cities, addressing teenage gang violence, have grown in number over the past 5 years. The surge of these films surrounding youths involved in drugs, guns, knives and everything in between is rising. The actual purpose of films like these remains unclear, are they there to shock us? Are they made to try and deter young people from choosing certain paths in life? Or are they there to simply emulate society and highlight what’s going on?