MANGROVE, Steve McQueen’s furious opening salvo in his SMALL AXE film anthology is powerful, poignant and essential Black British storytelling. The film remembers the Mangrove Nine and their very public 55 day trial for supposedly inciting a riot by protesting the Notting Hill Mangrove Caribbean restaurant’s repeated targeting for police raids. The film manages the not inconsiderable task of being celebratory of Black British communities and culture and being unflinching in depicting their bridal treatment at the hands of the Metropolitan Police. Malachi Kirby is a force of nature as Darcus Howe defending himself in court and Shaun Parkes makes a dignified Frank Crichlow but the entire cast and the vast socio-political canvas McQueen has put together here and in the other Small Axe films is simply awe-inspiring. This is deeply personal and important filmmaking, disturbing as it is how relevant this story still feels today. SSP
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Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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