An Honest Review of ‘Lovers Rock’ on Amazon Prime
*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*
If you've seen any of Steve McQueen's work, then you already know that the British filmmaker has got a knack for tackling serious issues and telling powerful stories. But with Lovers Rock, McQueen has shifted gears, giving fans what feels like a needed vacation from Black trauma and suffering.
The romance film was released in 2020 as part of the director's Golden Globes-nominated Small Axe anthology on Amazon Prime, and critics have been raving about the movie for its positive tone and stellar performances. But what is it about? And is it really worth the watch? Here's my honest take.
1. What is ‘Lover's Rock’ about?
Set in West London during the 1980s, Lovers Rock follows a young woman named Martha (Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn), who sneaks out to attend a Blues party with her close friend, Patty (Shaniqua Okwok). The fun gathering (which is organized by Black people who were denied entry at white nightclubs) stretches on for hours throughout the night, and during the festivities, Martha hits it off with a charming young man named Franklyn (Micheal Ward).
The short film is about an hour long, and these events all take place in one night. I won't give away too many details, but I will say that Lovers Rock is far from your typical, run-of-the-mill romance story. It feels more like an immersive house party, except in this case, there's sultry dancing, '80s reggae tunes and the smell of spicy Jamaican food. (Fun fact: The film's title actually refers to Lovers Rock, a sub-genre of reggae music that rose in popularity during the mid 1970s and is noted for its sensual sound and romantic content.)
2. Why is it worth the watch?
Simply put, Lovers Rock feels like a love letter to anyone who craves more content about Black beauty and joy. McQueen doesn't ignore the racial tensions that still exist today (in one scene, Martha has a close call when she briefly encounters a group of white men at night), however, he manages to shift the viewer's focus to the Black community and their will to thrive in that environment. As seen throughout the film, they're proud and unapologetic as they let loose in their little safe haven.
I took pleasure in some of the simplest moments because they reminded me of my own childhood, from the cooks breaking into song as they made Caribbean dishes to Cynthia getting her hair pressed with a hot comb. I especially loved to see the crowd go wild as the DJ worked his magic. But most of all, I could not stop swooning over Martha and Franklyn. They barely exchanged words when they first met, but watching their chemistry on the dance floor, one would think that they'd been in a relationship for many years.
I will note that there are a few intense moments in Lovers Rock—although they're not jarring enough to take away from the film's overall positive tone. There's also a lot of drinking, smoking and some foul language, so this might not be the best choice for family night. But if you're looking to put your mind at ease with a seductive, feel-good romance, then this one is for you.
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