Small Axe: Lovers Rock

Feel the rhythm of Steve McQueen’s next “Small Axe” story.

“Lovers Rock” is the second chapter in Steve McQueen’s mini-series “Small Axe,” which is almost as electrifying as “Mangrove,” and has enough rhythm and style to make it a worthy entry. It’s mostly presented in the form of song and dance, as we see British-Africans and British-Jamaicans feeling the beats and rhythms. It doesn’t discriminate the genres of songs and listeners; it allows them to feel a sense of energy.

The best music sequence, in particular, is when all the guys are dancing and singing together-shouting “Mercury Sound! This-a Mercury Sound!”I love how the photography and choreography brings them all close together, and how McQueen films them with ambition and creativity. This takes place near the end of the mini-movie, so I guess you could say: “they saved the best for last.”

The story, set in the 1980s, involves two British-Jamaican friends-Martha (newcomer Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) and Patty (Shaniqua Okwok)-both of whom live in West London and attend a house party. While Patty leaves early feeling left out, Martha meets the charming mechanic Franklyn (Michael Ward from “Blue Story”), and they fall in love with each other. This next chapter of “Small Axe” is a short one, so most of the dancing tries to upstate the romance, but there are moments that help keep it alive. Martha saves the birthday girl Cynthia (Elias George from “Doctor Who”) from getting raped by the dangerous Bammy (Daniel Francis-Swaby), and her estranged cousin Clifton (Kedar Williams-Stirling) crashes the party to exchange words with her.

I wish “Lovers Rock” could have gone on longer, so we can see more of the romance between Martha and Franklyn, but it still delivers on a poetic and movable entry. St. Aubyn and Ward both overcome the minor situations and find the chemistry within each other. They both allow the music to draw them in closer to each other, and acknowledge each other’s presence. And the supporting work from Francis-Swaby and Williams-Stirling both provide some riveting intentions. McQueen guides every actor with a sense of unique energy and open-minded attitudes.

The costumes are also fascinating when they resonate with the cultures and time period. Some of them wear normal caps, others wear taller ones, and Bammy wears a tall bolder hat that kind of looks like a turtle shell and has a feather on it. The hairstyles are also eclectic-some have afros, and Martha has a 60s style. “Lovers Rock” has a style with fashion, characters, and music.

I don’t mean to be offensive, but given the dialogue (how the British and Jamaican people speak), I suggest you watch it with subtitles. That way you can get a better understanding on what the characters are saying. Again, no disrespect, but it helps a lot, especially with the music going on. I’m just glad the police don’t have to be involved to ruin their night, because if they did, I probably would have missed that brilliant “Mercury Sound” sequence.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Categories: Drama, Series

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