Directed by: Mysterex
Written by: Ed Accura, Mysterex
Starring: Ed Accura, Reginald Mudenda, Amina Smith-Gul
The first question that would rightly come to your mind after reading the title Blacks Can't Swim: The Sequel is, “If this is a sequel, do I have to watch the first part to understand this one?” Here is my answer: No. You can just comfortably slip into this one without worrying about being lost in plot complications. If you want, you can check out the previous film in the entry, which is A Film Called Blacks Can’t Swim – My Journey, My Story. But you don’t necessarily have to.
As the title explains, the film zooms in on an issue prevailing in the Black community where most of them just cannot swim in the water. The film tries to explain the situation by blending documentary with fiction. So, on the one hand, you have interview footage of young people from the Black community expressing their take on the condition of non-swimmers, while on the other hand, you have a fictional narrative where Frank (Ed Accura) becomes a mentor for two young Black youths named Layla (Amina Smith-Gul) and K-Frost (Reginald Mudenda).
Layla and K-Frost know how to swim, but they don’t want to. They are part of a community program that gives young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds a better chance in life. But to complete it, you have to enter the swimming pool, and Layla and K-Frost are mysteriously against it. It’s up to Frank, then, to investigate the reason behind their reluctance and motivate these two to step into the body of water. Will he succeed? Watch the film.
Mysterex, the director of Blacks Can’t Swim: The Sequel, is very ambitious in his approach. As if the mixture of documentary and fiction was not enough, he also adds elements of fantasy. A demon-like voice appears to demotivate Layla and K-Frost. His arrival is signaled by dark colors and a cartoonish face. While I really appreciate the unusual technique, it does not always fit well with the story. Sometimes, the transition from real videos to the fictional setting can be jarring. The reason lies in its inconsistent tone, which arises because of the actors. Accura, Smith-Gul, and Mudenda don’t “settle” into their scenes. They either overstate their feelings or don’t react at all. For example, when Frank pushes Layla to reveal her discomfort with swimming, she marches out of the room. Throughout this scene, what’s missing is the gradual building up of pressure and Layla’s uneasiness. When she storms out, her motivations seem to be coming from the script and not from within her. Likewise, Frank’s mentoring and K-Frost’s eventual acceptance don’t come across as natural but mechanical. The actors needed to live and breathe their parts.
Yet, for all its flaws, Blacks Can’t Swim: The Sequel should be watched because of its ambitious style and the important things it wants to convey to the audience. The people in the interviews have some wonderful insights to share, and I think you should hear them. The film places its statistics in the middle instead of reserving them for the end. You have my respect, Mysterex.
On Digital Release Now