004: Young Soul Rebels (1991)

Ok, so I might be cheating a little bit here by using a film which I am analysing for a film course I am currently taking, and what of it?! It’s the 6th Jan, I have post-baubels blues and I just love me a bit of funk.

Young Soul Rebels is very much one of the forgotten indies of the booming British film industry, way back at the end of the eighties/start of the nineties. Here, film-visual artistic extraordinaire Isaac Julien depicts 1977 London. It’s the Queen’s Jubilee and, whilst nationalist fellows – ahem, the National Front – parade the streets celebrating our right royals, the soul boys and girls, as well as those upper-class anarchy-punks, linger on street corner, in dingy clubs, celebrating their outlandishness. That’s it really, an exploration of seventies subcultures: soul boys, punks, the glam-fans, rastas, skinheads, fun for all the family! But is it? No it isn’t.

Simply put, the performances here are a little hackneyed, a little OTT, and a tad banal. Although Julien’s tries to shed autobiographical light on ‘the happening seventies’ and the pluralistic realm of yesteryear, it feels a little trifled and showy. If you’re looking for filmic portrayals of minority study, then stick with this dude.

An enjoyable if not a little clunky 100 mins, the highlight of YSR is the fantastic soundtrack: X-Ray Spex, Funkadelic, The Heptones, its all there, and then some.

If you do happen to stumble across the VHS in the bargain bin (‘cos that’s where you’ll undoubtedly find it), then pick it up. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s groove move time!

★★★☆☆☆

IMDb it.

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