This film was previously reviewed in February 2021 as part of our Glasgow Film Festival coverage.

Working-class boy falls in love with high-bred girl, a premise as old as time. In A Brixton Tale, they are Benji (Ola Orebiyi) and Leah (Lily Newmark), respectively. The young man helps his mother at a nail salon and the girl is a frustrated influencer who finds in the high-level contacts of her parents an entryway into the art scene as a verité documentary filmmaker.

Leah leaves the cosy London suburbs to venture into Brixton in search of raw footage for her next project. She captures everything around her in a handheld camera instead of an iPhone, trying to mask a burning desire for hyper-contemporary likes through a somewhat outdated gadget. It is through her shaky camera that we are first introduced to Benji, Leah zooming into his face as he prances near his friend, her eyes filled with curiosity.

The mismatched couple are far from star-crossed lovers, their relationship the fruit of the reckless attraction of the young, one that refuses to analyse any further consequences. They are in for the now, the contrast between Newark’s perpetually bored expression and Orebiyi’s passionate delivery brilliantly conveying this careless sense of urgency. Here, we have no Romeo and Juliet. As their whirlwind affair evolves, the two go from casual dates to snorting cocaine from coffee tables to brutal fights, their behaviour growing erratic. 

The young woman’s fixation with capturing the gritty soon bothers Benji, who finds himself the main star of a film he never asked to be a part of. Directing duo Carey and Desrochers aptly mix the home footage style with an anxiety-inducing score, destabilising the narrative as the couple dives deeper and deeper into danger, bringing to the fore the dire consequences of the socioeconomic abyss that stands between them and, in doing so, superbly find freshness in an otherwise tired motif.



CAST: Ola Orebiyi, Lily Newmark, Jaime Winstone, Michael Maloney

DIRECTORS: Darragh Carey, Bertrand Desrochers

WRITERS:  Rupert Baynham, Darragh Carey

SYNOPSIS: Wealthy YouTuber Leah chooses shy youth Benji as the subject of her Brixton documentary. They fall for each other, but the desire for edgy footage leads them down a violent path.