Liam Trump’s review published on Letterboxd:
Steve McQueen’s second film in the Small Axe series, Lovers Rock is widely different than the first one. It opts to take the focus away from the actual plot and characters; focusing mainly on the atmosphere and setting. The thinly structured story centers around a party in the 1980s where two people meet each other and form a relationship.
All of the stylistic elements are on point in Lovers Rock. Both the soundtrack and lighting perfectly set the stage. The camerawork has a naturalistic feel to it which further emphasizes the free-flowing nature of the party.
The problems I have with it stem from how weak the writing is. All of the characters didn’t have much depth outside of a few basic character traits/flaws and this made the end payoff feel weak. It’s a terrific ending, but there sadly wasn’t much character set up for it to have the weight that it needed. The actual party, which takes up the majority of the movie, got really repetitive and overstayed it’s welcome. I know that it wasn’t completely focusing on the story, but since there wasn’t a full commitment to style or substance, each of these aspects suffered to some degree.