Sunday, October 19, 2014

HONEYTRAP - LFF14 - Day Eleven

You can listen to a podcast review of this film here or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews on iTunes.

HONEYTRAP is a British film based on the true story of a gang murder in South London.  15 year old Samantha Joseph was labelled a honeytrap killer by the tabloid press for having lured a boy called Shakilus into following her into a cup de sac where gang members killed him.  She's now facing life in prison.

Writer-director Rebecca Johnson's film has changed the names of the lead characters in her film out of respect, but the set-up is clearly the same.  A young girl wants to impress her gangster boyfriend by offering up a sacrifice.  What's different is that the film is shot from the perspective of the girl - in this case called Layla and played by Jessica Shula.  Layla has come from Trinidad to live with a mother who is clearly uninterested her in a community that is savage in its bullying and gang affiliations.  Initially a shy conservative girl, Layla quickly becomes obsessed with Troy, a handsome gang member, perhaps to the point of delusion once he sleeps with her, dumps her and moves on.  Shula is an enigmatic actress and perhaps frustratingly so - we never really understand what Layla is thinking in allowing herself to be so used, and for sacrificing her sweet best friend Shaun, but Johnson makes plenty of subtle arguments.

The world of South London inner city black teenagers is portrayed as one of parental neglect, educational impoverishment, crime and bullying.  The value system is so far out of whack - so misogynistic, so corrupt in every sense - that it's no wonder that Layla loses her anchor and ends up a complicit murderess.  One wonders quite whether the real Shaun's family will see it this way, and what reaction the film will provoke.  To my mind, it's an affecting and fascinating film - because it's a type of life that I have no experience with and to which most people in England only read stories mediated by low-rent tabloids like the Daily Mail. It's fantastic to see someone actually try and show the story from the inside. I've got no way of knowing if it's nearer the truth of that particular story, but as a comment on the kind of pressures facing kinds in contemporary London it's tragic and important.

HONEYTRAP has a running time of 90 minutes.  It played London 2014 and will go on very limited release in the UK on May 8th 2015.

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