In 2018, with rom-coms and musicals well and truly back with a vengeance, this beautiful, neon-drenched romantic drama couldn’t have come at a better time.
Based on the Young Vic’s stage musical of the same name, Tinge Krishnan’s beautiful film adaptation charts the rocky romance of Simone (Coel) and Raymond (Kene). Simone – a stoically independent single mother who’s been hurt before – isn’t keen to open her heart up again. Raymond – an ex-con with an ankle monitor and a strict curfew – is struggling to adjust to post-prison life. Though sparks fly when the two meet, there’s a way to go before they’ll truly open up to one another. Like in any rom-com worth its salt, the course of true love never runs smooth.
Admittedly, the music by Arthur Darvill (yes, Rory from Doctor Who) is a little hit-and-miss – but when it hits, it hits (see Yvonne’s hilariously lustful fantasy ‘I Want A Fella’, complete with hunky dancing satyrs and flower crowns). They may not all be instant earworms, but they’re often such a joyfully performed visual treat that you’ll hardly care. Coel in particular cements her star status, boasting a beautiful voice that deserves to be featured in a dozen more movie musicals.
Ultimately though, it’s not just a film about the romance. It’s about vulnerability, second chances, and letting go of the past. “Life gets harder,” Yvonne sings, urging Simone to open up, “but life gets sweeter. Unfreeze your heart, ’cause even you can change.”
A sweet film that never turns saccharine, this charming and deeply romantic musical is just the thing for a cold autumnal evening – it’s just a shame that its gorgeous visuals will largely have to be enjoyed on television screens thanks to its Netflix acquisition.
CAST: Michaela Coel, Arinzé Kene, Ronke Adekoluejo, George MacKay, Joe Dempsie
DIRECTOR: Tinge Krishnan
WRITER: Ché Walker
SYNOPSIS: Hardworking single mother Simone (Coel) struggles to open herself up to love again after meeting Raymond (Kene), a handsome ex-con struggling to put his life back together.