I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
My debut poetry pamphlet is available at wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
Published October 1st 2020
Is this the real life?
Trust would be as valid a title for this new British film, set in inner-city Portsmouth. Aki Omoshaybi is the writer, director and star. He plays Kyle, who pays for Jamie's (Pippa Bennett-Warner) shopping when her card is declined. After this first meeting, a stop-start relationship develops, which threatens to falter under revelations and deceptions.
Can it survive lies about jobs and a history of addiction? Has Kyle created a persona to distance himself from childhood trauma?
Jamie is a single mother with a seven-year-old son Felix - played by a young actor who clearly enjoys being in front of the camera. Kyle develops a rapport with Felix - including a rainy visit to the beach - which makes Jamie warm to him.
When Kyle goes for a sales-job interview he is met by Jamie's friend, Tasha. The unravelling of his lie, about being a solicitor, proves too much for Jamie and she stops returning his calls.
The story relies on coincidence for this one revelation, but otherwise, it is the kind of will-they-won't-they narrative that Jane Austen would nod at with approval.
Aki Omoshaybi opts for a jerky, hand-held camera technique. The lens zooms in closely on the actor's faces - placing an emphasis on their non-verbal acting and drawing us even closer into their highs and lows.
The screen is frequently sun-dappled, perhaps to give a sense of childhood summers, fleeting time and the way that the protagonists filter the reality of their back-stories to each other.
Arguably, the very last scenes of the film, wrap things up more neatly than is justified, given the finely threaded story-telling which precedes it.
Real tells a familiar tale but sets it in a world not so familiar to the big and small screen - one of housing estates and discount shops and washing on lines flapping in the wind. It is ultimately a life-affirming film which takes place in a landscape which is as valid a setting as Home Counties countryside or fashionable London districts.