Second Coming Film Review – “Don’t call it a Black film”

 

Second Com­ing is award win­ning play­wright and screen­writer Debbie Tuck­er Green’s debut fea­ture film. And with that she becomes only the fourth Black woman to have a film dis­trib­uted in the UK. With Black rep­res­ent­a­tion on Brit­ish screens need­ing great­er vis­ib­il­ity, and not the isol­a­tion­ist sort of Luther pro­gram­ming (black prot­ag­on­ist – no vis­ibly black friends, lov­ers or fam­ily), Second Com­ing is a refresh­ing drama with a fam­ily who speak with patois inflec­tions, show­ing a rare on-screen glimpse into every­day life for 2nd gen­er­a­tion migrants from the Carib­bean.

But don’t call it a Black film. After all, soap oper­as and block busters with all white casts aren’t called ‘white films’ are they?

Jack­ie (Nad­ine Mar­shall) is a forty-some­thing mother in a cler­ic­al job liv­ing in a leafy Lon­don sub­urb with con­struc­tion work­er hus­band Mark (Idris Elba) and their 11 year old son JJ (Kai Fran­cis-Lewis). The rev­el­a­tion in this haunt­ing psy­cho­drama is that Jack­ie is preg­nant, des­pite being told she would nev­er con­ceive again. The flux in this nar­rat­ive is that Jack­ie and Mark have been chaste for sev­er­al months so the ques­tion is between choos­ing wheth­er an immacu­late con­cep­tion has taken place (as the Bib­lic­ally themed film title teases) or wheth­er “stub­born” Jack­ie is refus­ing to dis­close an absent lover’s iden­tity even to her best friend Bernie (Shar­le­ne Whyte).

The same way Mark is shut out by Jack­ie, the audi­ence is shut out by the film in way of an affirm­at­ive answer. Which is fine. The film uses the domest­ic dilem­ma to explore the Jack­ie and Mark’s supremely lov­ing rela­tion­ships with their nature-boy of a son JJ, who rev­els in bird scout­ing in the woods and there is great sym­bol­ism with his efforts to heal a dam­aged Crow. The fant­ast­ic per­form­ances by the head­lining fam­ily trio, mas­ter­fully orches­trated by Tucker’s theatre sens­ib­il­it­ies are propped by a stel­lar sup­port­ing cast of best friend Bernie, Nadie’s facety sis­ter and her lov­ing Jamaic­an par­ents who very neces­sar­ily brighten the film’s damp mood. It’s also SO good to see Llewel­la Gideon of fan-favour­ite and influ­en­tial TV com­edy series The Real McCoy on the screen again.

A num­ber of scenes of storm rain-showers in the bath­room with Jack­ie exem­pli­fy the mul­ti-layered nar­rat­ive that forces the audi­ence to make its own mind about the film’s out­come. Is it a dream, a fantasy or a vis­ion? Is it an ablu­tion bap­tism or a cata­clys­mic flood (or just bad plumb­ing?)?

Nad­ine Marshall’s per­form­ance is as intense and con­trolled as it is evas­ive. The audi­ence remains ambi­val­ent towards Jack­ie without her ever los­ing sym­pathy. And Idris Elba makes the audi­ence a con­duit for his own frus­tra­tions hav­ing no place to receive any defin­it­ive answer.

Even days after view­ing, the film whil­st not neces­sar­ily being “enjoy­able” in its entirety due to the bleak nature of the family’s ordeal with uncom­fort­able moments, keeps nudging at the judge­ments of the view­er, shed­ding light on parts that ini­tially fell in the shade.  The end­ing is fant­ast­ic and young Fran­cis-Lewis’ per­form­ance also gives cause to optim­ist­ic­ally cel­eb­rate a poten­tially phe­nom­en­al future in cinema. Idris Elba’s star billing should mean that more people watch Second Com­ing, but the truth is that he is just one of a fine ensemble cast.

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By Wasif Sayyed (@WasifS­cion)

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Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed’s many years as a writer, rap­per, pro­moter, ment­or and hip-hop pro­du­cer have shaped him into an enthu­si­ast­ic and insight­ful cul­tur­al cryp­to­grapher. He loves read­ing and cook­ing, and can hear the whis­per of an unsheathed liquid sword from 50 paces. Twit­ter @WasifScion

About Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed
Wasif Sayyed's many years as a writer, rapper, promoter, mentor and hip-hop producer have shaped him into an enthusiastic and insightful cultural cryptographer. He loves reading and cooking, and can hear the whisper of an unsheathed liquid sword from 50 paces. Twitter @WasifScion

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