A troubled black teenager joins a white racist gang in Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s autobiographical debut, which co-stars Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Genevieve Nnaji. Farming is a true story told with raw emotion and lurid violence, it vents into the elements of the actor’s life story bringing to light a disturbing, eye-opening coming of age drama.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje follows an unsparing racist attitude that formed the bases of his life. He depicts a raw and unreserved import of racism in the 60’s UK that makes it almost uncomfortable but also very persuasive to watch the movie. The story is closely based on the director’s own troubled youth, Farming is rooted in rich, complex, potentially gripping material. But Akinnuoye-Agbaje slaps this story together with so little subtlety, he ends up seriously diluting its dramatic power. Fresh from its Toronto premiere, this twisted coming-of-age saga should generate media traction and further festival bookings based on its potent subject matter, boosted by the presence of Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the cast. But theatrical prospects will be limited by the film’s bludgeoning, ham-fisted execution.
The story focuses on the practice that existed between the 1960s and the 1980s, when thousands of Nigerian children were fostered to white working class families in the UK, a process known as “ farming”. Enitan’s family entrust him to the care of Ingrid Carpenter (Kate Beckinsale). He grows up in a loving, boisterous household in Tilbury along with six other children that Ingrid is fostering.
As a schoolboy, Enitan is hit by stones, attacked by a dog, bullied and humiliated. He is told to learn to fight for himself, advice he will take to heart as an adolescent.
Farming vividly depicts the way in which Enitan is cut adrift from any sense of belonging or security. At one stage, his parents decide take him “home” to Nigeria and it might as well be a trip to the moon. He doesn’t understand the language and is frightened by the local customs. In Britain, he is treated as a second-class citizen, leaving him marooned in a no man’s land.
The most startling twist in the story is perhaps the way the teenager (now played by the charismatic Damson Idris) becomes a member of a white skinhead gang lead by vicious psychopath Levi (John Dalgleish) in order to fit in.
Country: UK, Language: English, Release date: 11 October, 2019.
Production Co.: Groundswell Productions, Logical Pictures, Metalwork Pictures. Etc.
Runtime: 107 mins
Director: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Writer: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Major Cast/Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Genevieve Nnaji.