SMALL AXE: ALEX WHEATLE (2020)

Directed By: Steve McQueen 
Written By: Steve McQueen & Alastair Siddons 
Cinematography: Shabier Kirchner 
Editor: Chris Dickens & Steve McQueen

Cast: Sheyi Cole, Khali Best, Fumilayo Brown-Olatej, Riley Burgin, Ross Cahill, Zakiyyah Deen, Robbie Gee, Jonathan Jules, Ashley McGuire 

Alex Wheatle follows the true story of award-winning writer, Alex Wheatle, from a young boy through his early adult years. Having spent his childhood in a mostly white institutional care home with no love or family, he finally finds not only a sense of community for the first time in Brixton, but his identity and ability to grow his passion for music and DJing. When he is thrown in prison during the Brixton Uprising of 1981, he confronts his past and sees a path to healing


Though short on running time at barely over an hour. As this is part of a television series, but feel more like films. Each film is part of an anthology. The film makes its point about identity. How you fail to grow without one because you have no idea who you are or where you come from. You have no ground to stand on to grow from really.

As the main character we are introduced to as a child in the ul foster care system constantly abused and neglected by Caucasian’s who are supposed to be looking out for him but seem to resent him. He doesn’t know his past or even too much culture as he is alienated and then eventually dumped into an apartment in a low-income neighborhood

Though at least mroe amongst people like him. West Indian and African immigrants who take him in and he learns culture, survival and the streets form them. As they help to also nurture his love of music. 

We see as he matures in the streets a sort of coming of age story of himself and we see how he strives especially not knowing his past. He finds it hard to carve out a future and even figure himself out. As he is usually made fun of and talked down to by those around him because he isn’t quite as grounded as they are.

He tells his story in jail to his cellmate after being arrested for his participation in the Braxton rots and strangely enough, his cellmate is the one who sets him straight. Explain g to him to learn his own history and unlearn the bad thing she has been taught.

He also gives him some life lessons to learn on his own. As this story is based o a true story and person. You can easily figure out the ending.

While this isn’t as electrifying as the other films in The small axe series of films and quite shorter it is easy to see why it was made and this story told it not only helps lead into the final film of the set. It also tells a tale of rehabilitation, self-rehabilitation. 

It also feels like the first act of a much bigger story. Where you wish the film expanded into mroe of a life story. As it is fine the way it is but it also feels like a chapter or chapters of a life that we know by the end will be much more fulfilling and deserves mroe then just an update and pre-credits scene explaining. What Happened to the character 

Grade: B-

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