Directed by Alexander Thomas Starring Laya Lewis, Sennia Nanua, Corey Trevor, Winston Ellis & Keiran Hardcastle
Short film review by Monica Jowett
1980’s Britain was restless and Beverley, the short film from writer and director Alexander Thomas explores the issue of identity young mixed raced people went through at the time, to the backdrop of ska and 2 Tone music.
Beverley ‘Bev’ (Laya Lewis) is a mixed race teen who moves to the suburbs of Leicester with her mother Janine (Vicky McClure), younger sister Jess (Sennia Nanua), autistic brother Carl (Corey Trevor) and dodgy father Travis (Winston Ellis) who has just come into a large sum of money. Whereas Bev was comfortable living in the city, the suburb is less promising especially considering the attitude of her middle-class white neighbours. She befriends a group of skinheads, who somewhat accept her but continue to make racial comments and bully her autistic brother, whom she constantly tries to protect from the harshness of other sub-cultures. Beverley produces a great narrative about what growing up in that area and society was like, quite different to the multicultural life of today. Using Leicester as the background of the short film, which is where producer Cass Pennant grew up, provides an authenticity to the story.
Lewis fully embodies Beverley, who, though a figure of reliance and protection for her siblings, struggles with her identity, her ethnic appearance and interracial attraction with one of her new friends Wilson (Keiran Hardcastle). Surrounded by the ska sound of the 1980’s Bev tries to find her place in the changing world around her. Her sister Jess deals with her place in a smaller way as she tries to grow flowers in their front garden to make it more like a home, but comes up against their neighbours. Carl has problems fitting in, not helped by his autism which makes him a target for the skinheads. Even their mother knows the danger and unwelcome attitudes her family may face.
The use of some great ska, reggae and 2-Tone music within the film makes Beverley full of energy and upbeat, whilst dealing with some tough issues surrounding adolescence as black and white come together. The music represents a place where Bev feels like she belongs being mixed race, as does her brother Carl, and music has a universal appeal which transcends most social barriers.
Beverley encapsulates the tone of 1980’s British racial identity in young people, as a snapshot into recent English history that is not often seen. Using an open ending to the film, Beverley provides an opportunity to make more of Bev and her family’s story.
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