'Gone Too Far': Film Review

Courtesy of BAM Cinematek
Engaging British comedy handles its serious themes with witty humor.

Destiny Ekaragha's debut feature concerns the culture clash between a British teenager and his older Nigerian brother.

A British comedy of manners in which those of the good kind are rarely on display, Destiny Ekaragha's entertaining debut feature concerns the culture clash between the teenage Yemi (Malachi Kirby) and his older brother, Ikudayisi (O.C. Ukeje), who has just arrived in South London from his native Nigeria. Adapted by Bola Agbaje from her Olivier Award-winning play Gone Too Far recently received its U.S. premiere courtesy of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's New Voices in Black Cinema film festival.

Set in the London neighborhood of Peckham — home to many immigrants of African and Caribbean descent — the low-budget film amusingly explores the racial tensions that inevitably ensue. The typically soccer- and girl-crazed Yemi is immediately embarrassed by his family's arrival, whose fashion sense is indicated by wearing socks with sandals and speaking in his native Yoruban when excited, which is quite often.

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Sent out by their mother (a hilarious Golda John) to procure some okra for the evening meal, the brothers bicker incessantly, even within the hushed confines of a library, with Yemi desperately trying to ditch his uncool sibling to better pursue the attentions of the beautiful but highly affected Armani (Shanika Warren-Markland), who mainly seems to be using him to make her ex-boyfriend jealous.

Taking place within a single day, Gone Too Far occasionally does go too far, with some moments lapsing into strained slapstick and several of the supporting characters verging on stereotype. But at its best, it explores its racial, cultural and coming-of-age themes with engaging humor and warmth.

Director Ekaragha keeps things moving at a brisk pace, with the fluid cinematography making excellent use of the vibrantly atmospheric locations. As the sparring siblings, the two lead actors comprise a terrific tag team, with Kirby vividly conveying his character's typical teen frustrations and Ukege wonderfully entertaining as the ever-ebullient immigrant eager to make friends with everyone he meets. Despite the film's occasional rough patches, their Laurel-and-Hardy-like interactions provide consistent amusement.

Production: Poisson Rouge Pictures, British Film Institute
Cast: Malachi Kirby, O.C. Ukeje, Shanika Warren-Markland, Adelayo Adedayo, Tosin Cole, Miles McDonald, Golda John
Director: Destiny Ekaragha
Screenwriter: Bola Agbaje
Producer: Christopher Granier-Deferre
Director of photography: Stil Williams
Production designer: Laura Tarrant-Brown
Editor: Anna Dick
Costume designer: Rob Nicholls
Composers: Rhys Adams, Ben Onono
Casting: Kate Plantin

Not rated, 88 min.