Sunday, 18 September 2011

Watched - no 20 - Everywhere & Nowhere (Menhaj Huda, 2011)

The trials and tribulations of a young British-Asian, Ash (James Floyd), involving familial tensions, traditional versus contemporary lifestyles, uncertain futures and peer pressure take centre stage in Menhaj Huda's London set coming-of-age drama. Huda, responsible for directing Kidulthood (2006), as well as racking up various television directorial credits on Holby Blue, The Bill and Eastenders amongst others, both writes and directs this familiar tale of urban angst, generational divides and clashing cultural mores. With his humourless and over-bearing brother Ahmed (Ally Khan) dictating that Ash should follow him into the family retail business the young second generation British-Asian is desperate to break free of his pre-determined future and follow his dreams of becoming a successful DJ. With the likes of Kidulthood, Adulthood (Noel Clarke, 2008) and Bullet Boy (Saul Dibb, 2004), as well as the 'gritty' urban movie spoof Anuvahood (Adam Deacon, Daniel Toland), cornering the market in 'edgy' youth oriented movies Huda was taking a gamble in churning out another film in this sub-genre, and it's a gamble that hasn't paid off.

There's nothing in Everywhere & Nowhere that we haven't seen many times before, the characters are stereotypical in the extreme and the screenplay packed full of tired clich├ęs that leaves the whole thing sadly lacking in dramatic tension due to the staleness of the plot. Huda throws a variety of well worn themes into the mix - hypocritical family members, friends going off the rails, love across a cultural divide, Islamophobia and Anglophobia and Ash's struggle for independence from his family and the friends he is growing weary of. That these themes aren't explored in any great detail gives the whole narrative an 'issues 101' feel, where a deeper exploration of one of the themes or something vaguely unfamiliar in general could have been a whole lot more satisfying. The cast give it their all and Huda's direction is solid enough, but Everywhere & Nowhere has the feel of a late night television drama instead of a big screen experience. British cinema is riding the crest of a wave at the moment with the likes of Steve McQueen's upcoming Shame (2011), Andrea Arnold's take on Wuthering Heights (2011) and Tomas Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) all garnering critical acclaim as well as smaller scale or genre offerings such as Ben Wheatley's Kill List (2011) capturing audiences imaginations. Unfortunately for Huda the paucity of originality on show either behind the camera or in front of it when compared to those other releases exposes his need to pass on the writing duties and broaden his repertoire in terms of thematic concerns if he's going to have a chance of any long term recognition.

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