George Clark’s review published on Letterboxd:
2020 Releases Ranked-HERE
The second film in Steve McQueen's Small Axe anthology sadly doesn't live up to the highs of his first, "Mangrove", yet is still a success. Starring Micheal Ward, Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Shaniqua Okwok, Daniel Francis-Swaby and Ellis George, the story follows two young lovers whilst at a blues party in the early 1980s.
Like I said earlier, Mangrove will more than likely be the stand out film from this anthology but Lovers Rock gives it a decent shot. Steve McQueen captures every moment really well with his characterisation, colourisation and direction encapsulating you for the whole runtime and as this is a "Jamaican based story in the heart of London", the Reggie style music allows for a rather authentic feel as the dancing, music and dialogue all work fantastically well for the "vibe" of the film. However, sitting at just 70 minutes long, Lovers Rock is a fun, easy to watch film but sadly lacks a decent narrative for it's last half and therefore becomes rather confusing once the party is in full swing. Unfortunately, whilst the sequences were brilliant, it drifted from the main romance at times and this undoubtedly pulled me out of the movie as I was unsure what was happening at points. Yet, there are some superb performances which enhance the film with both of the lovers Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn and Micheal Ward dominate the film alongside Daniel Francis-Swaby who's screen presence is incredibly intimidating.
Now, Lovers Rock does spend the majority of it's runtime setting the atmosphere and I couldn't understand the majority of the dialogue (luckily I had subtitles on), but it is a rather great film to watch and ultimately feels like a personal love note from Steve McQueen to an era and culture he loves.