Lovers Rock

Lovers Rock ★★★★½

Like a riff on Olivier Assayas's Cold Water, Lovers Rock is a work of escapism in which a house party and a meticulously selected soundtrack create a bubble of sensual bliss and romantic intrigue. There is a story here, but the emphasis is on the small gestures: hands drifting ever downward down a woman's back during a slow dance, whispers of benign jealousy between friends and strangers over possible competition, and the general pleasures of dancing the night away. Yet where Assayas's youths found a refuge from their own troubled minds, here it is clear, in isolation and especially when placed in the context of the wider Small Axe project, that these characters have found a hideaway from a nation that hates them and polices their every activity. There is still danger here, snakes in the garden who lurk around the women, and it does end with a small but pointed reminder of the hierarchies that can only be briefly cast aside, but this is still easily the most uplifting thing McQueen has ever made.