31st Dec2018

‘Yardie’ DVD Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Aml Ameen, Shantol Jackson, Stephen Graham, Antwayne Eccleston, Fraser James, Rayon McLean, Mark Rhino Smith, Sheldon Shepherd, Christopher Daly, Alexandra Vaz, Chris-Ann Fletcher, Paul Haughton, Everaldo Creary | Written by Brock Norman Brock, Martin Stellman | Directed by Idris Elba


Yardie is the much anticipated directorial debut from much beloved British acting veteran Idris Elba – who’s famed for his turn as grizzly and gritty roles ranging from his much-beloved turn as DCI John Luther to Hollywood action prowess of Pacific Rim, Thor and Star Trek Beyond.

With Yardie, adapted from the novel by the same name by author Victor Headley released in 1992, Elba strips away the Hollywood gloss and expense, pushing himself into the deep end in the realm of the dearly missed British production of a gritty and dark tale of greed and murder, reminiscent of the vast social politic and exaggerations from the likes of Alan Clarke and Guy Ritchie, respectively.

Yardie is undeniably the perfect start for Elba in his directors’ chair. It’s a project that isn’t embellished with special effects nor an ambitious artistan picture that has one goal to put his name on the map. It’s clearly a passion project from the first few frames that develop but also a clear visage of an artist still honing his craft.

Elba’s film is as independent and raw as one would hope. Certain scenes are clearly void of atmospheric intention, mostly the violent sequences that are either poorly edited and vacant of a director who isn’t necessarily sure how he wants to covey such fluidity to his editor Justine Wright. Although, it must be on record that as stated above, Yardie is the beginning of honing of a craft; the transition from actor to director isn’t the easiest of evolution – just ask Ryan Gosling – yet the clear evidence of on-screen evolution via production is rather poetic and grandiose to see develop.

Production aside, Elba does succeed in never shying away from the prevalent and darkly nihilistic tendencies from where the story hails. It embraces the history and life of such and puts forth an honest depiction of both sides of the violence and devastation in greed and lust. It’s a testament to Elba as a director and writers Brock Norman Brock and Martin Stellman, all of whom put the material before anything else and thankfully their egos.

Casting director Shaheen Baig must also be applauded for her work on the films cast list. A magically woven and dynamic range of mostly unknown and less prominently visible performers in the UK are utilised with tremendous effect. Undoubtedly the biggest name cast in the film is actor Stephen Graham, who puts forth an incredibly menacing and anarchist character, of whom the audience can visually see the blood boil with a nightmarish and terrifying range. Composer Dickon Hinchliffe also puts forth a staggeringly atmospheric and compelling use of a range of music in the picture that has a living beating heart on its sleeve…

Yardie is out now on DVD from Studiocanal.


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