Gone Too Far! (London Film Festival 2013)
There’s an unsettling déjà vu when watching Gone Too Far! on a big screen, as its frustratingly redolent of a poor BBC3 sitcom pilot. The comedy is on the surface – and maybe at its heart too – about staying true to your national roots, regardless of where you are. However, what comes across is a series of weary jokes that I can’t call cliched, as these gags would be considered unusable by most writers.
One example: “Where do you think Adam and Eve come from?” “Well, his name is Adam, so it must be Dover.”
At the centre is Yemi (Malachi Kirby), a teenager in Peckham struck by teenage love. He’s also hampered by the responsibility of looking after Iku (OC Ukeje), his brother who’s returned from Nigeria; Iku speaks with a strong accent and is noticeably less streetwise, as made evident by his socks and sandals combo.
The pair’s relationship is probably the film’s only worthwhile aspect, with Yemi’s denial of his African roots expressed in his defence that ambivalence is different from self-hatred. (Like in Heat, the best scene is a simple conversation in a diner between Yemi and and Iku.) The topic is particularly apt for the Hackney setting, where different cultures clash and relate to their identities in different ways.
Both actors do fine with their material, which can’t be said about the supporting cast who are cartoonish in line deliveries – it isn’t totally their fault, given the facile screenplay. Gone Too Far! actually began life as a well-received play; while I never saw that production, I can imagine the outlandish humour corresponding better with a sympathetic audience. It would, for example, explain why everyone keeps accidentally intersecting when walking around London. However, if I was Yemi, I wouldn’t be disowning my roots – I’d be disowning the film.
Gone Too Far! is making its world premiere as part of the London Film Festival’s “Laugh” strand. Screening information can be found here.
86 mins approx