The Movie Waffler Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 Review - FARMING | The Movie Waffler

Sponsor

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 Review - FARMING

farming 2019 review
In 1980s London, a young Nigerian man joins a white supremacist gang.

Review by Blair MacBride

Directed by: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Starring: Damson Idris, Kate Beckinsale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jaime Winstone, John Dagleish

farming 2019 poster

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s feature directorial debut Farming tells the tale of his own deeply troubling and heart-wrenching childhood. Based on experiences that transpired not only in his own life, but in the lives of many other African children in post Second World War Britain, Farming proves an intensely moving addition to this year’s festival.

Set between 1960s and '80s London, the movie is centred around ‘Enitan’ or ‘Eni’. Played by the wonderful Damson Idris, Eni’s story is merely one of hundreds of Nigerian and/or African children who from birth were ‘farmed out’ by their biological parents to white British foster parents in the hope of a more stable upbringing. Indeed, many African immigrants who emigrated to Britain at the time looked to make their own futures more prosperous via the British education system (often looking to enable themselves to return to their mother countries and enter the civil service). With no immediate family to turn to, however, these African families sought permanent child care through white foster families until they were ready to re-connect with their children.


farming 2019 review

Eni, however, is spared the more ‘stable’ upbringing as his life is filled with racist, racial stereotyping which comes, not least, from his own foster mother and her friends; throughout the first half of the film, Ingrid (Kate Beckinsale) often jokes about how Eni and his foster brothers and sisters wouldn’t want to return to ‘wooga wooga’ land, so should behave. As a consequence of his own difficult home life and the incessant public abuse he receives, Eni begins to fervently resent the colour of his skin. His vitriolic hatred for his own race and culture finally climaxes with him joining a white supremacist skinhead group, in which he willingly plays the role of the gang pet and commits acts of violence against the community around him.

As such, this film stands out from the majority at this year’s festival. Agbaje’s story is not only rousing, tragic, and incredibly moving, but the fact that it gives voice to one of many troubling periods in British history is something which truly sets it aside from any standard biopic. The script is almost faultless with its engaging dialogue and formidable storytelling, and the cast gel together perfectly. The feature’s additional gripping yet harrowing sequences make this filmmaking debut one to remember.


farming 2019 review

On top of that, Idris is magnificent in this movie, and although one cannot forget the stellar performance of Zephan Hanson Amissah, playing the young Eni, Idris truly takes the character to another level. It is true that by having the person behind the story in Agbaje present on set as both the director and his on-screen father, Idris would have no doubt been at an advantage in terms of the guidance available to him (in respect of developing the general nature of his character). That said, he does a fantastic and a quite honestly phenomenal job at portraying Eni’s sincere, indisputable hatred for his own skin colour, ethnicity and culture - Idris’ breath-taking performance has been quite rightly accredited with the EIFF 2019 Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film. This young actor is undeniably a talent to keep your eye on for the future.

This feature’s supporting actors are also outstanding in their roles; particularly Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ms Dapo, Eni’s ever-supportive teacher turned life-mentor, and John Dagleish as ‘Levi’, the leader of the Tilbury Skins Gang. Dagleish truly shines at showcasing the gruesome white supremacist nature of his character.


farming 2019 review


Although Farming does suffer from a few pacing issues towards its end, not to mention a slightly rushed redemption for Enitan – an extra five minutes might have delivered a more fitting character arc – this feature is a disturbingly fascinating tale. Having been years in the making, Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s perseverance has been rewarded with not only an early onset of Film festival awards, but more importantly, a genuinely memorable and powerful film.

Farming is in UK/ROI cinemas October 18th.


2019 movie reviews



discussion by