DIRECTOR: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (debut)
starring: damson idris, kate beckinsale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and john dagleish
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Based on his own incredible autobiographical story, writer-director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Farming follows a young Nigerian boy as he is drawn into a gang.
Don’t be fooled by the title. Farming isn’t about agriculture or cute little animals. It's the astounding true story of director, writer, and star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s life. And apart from a few stumbles, it's a gritty, arresting, brutal but hope filled story.
During the Enoch Powell inspired racial unrest in Britain during the 1970’s, Nigerian immigrants would foster their children out to white families in a process nicknamed ‘farming’. Enitan, a young Nigerian foster child, retreats into himself until he is attacked by racist skinhead thugs. Slowly and unbelievably, Enitan joins the skinhead gang, becoming one of their most fearsome and feared members.
First things first. Farming is an incredible story. Hands down. It’s saddening, infuriating, and will leave you dumbfounded. Of course you can understand, due to his psychological trauma, why and how Enitan, a young Nigerian boy, could have possible joined a skinhead gang. But it’s still absolutely incredible. What makes this story even more incredible is where Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has ended up. Not only did he survive but he is thriving. Nothing can take away from his story.
But in its telling Farming does fall into some traps that other biographical films fall into. There’s little things like information that we’ve already seen repeated or portrayed in such a way that’s not fresh at all.
Even though the story is incredible and there are several brutal scenes throughout this film, the structure and execution of the film makes all that story and all those violent moments land like a dull punch instead of slicing into us with the precision and violence of a scalpel.
I’ve never seen Damson Idris before but he delivers a soaring and searing performance, perfectly capturing the lost, angry and physiologically damaged Enitan. But most importantly, which can be lost in such a character, he manages to bring Enitan’s humanity thundering on to the screen. Kate Beckinsale, who plays Ingrid Enitan’s foster Mum, gives a wonderfully complex performance and one of her best.
Although it stumbles at times, Farming is a true story that's gritty, arresting, brutal but hope filled story.