Lovers Rock

Lovers Rock ★★★★½

I’m speechless. Calling this a TV episode feels reductive, there is five times more cinema in this than in most of the films I’ve seen this year. 

Experimental but never abrasive, the plot and scope is skeletal in theory but in practice it feels so full. The narrative freedom of Lovers Rock is reflected in its symphony of free movement and sensuality. I was so scared that the experience would get tedious as the bite-sized runtime went by but the film’s structure deliberately builds up in momentum so organically that you wouldn’t even notice there was an intent. This fluidity takes us into a climax that floods the screen with a gigantic amount of kinetic energy that words couldn’t do justice.

I couldn’t understand most of what the characters were saying but I don’t feel like I needed to most of the time. There is such an hypnotic power in McQueen’s images where you can understand everyone’s story and motivation through their movements, expression and with just one or two words in their sentences.

Would make an interesting double bill with this year’s If It Were Love like a more upbeat and spontaneous side of the same coin. I saw a bit of Mektoub My Love’s controversial club scene in this except I don’t feel the need to defend Lovers Rock since its ecstatic energy is just as powerful and its sensuality is infinitely more genuine than exploitative.

Easily one of the best and most necessary films of 2020. I can’t wait to watch the rest of Small Axe

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