Directed by: #RichardOHare
Clocking in at a mere seven minutes in length, Richard O’Hare’s slice-of-life movie, Ghetto Bird, shows plenty of promise. Unfortunately, it gives us little cause to care about its characters or the world they inhabit, and so falls short of ever fulfilling any potential it may have had.
Three young skaters – Ryan (Jack Parr), Killian (Aron Von Andrian) and Sam (Scott Penman) – discuss life at the skate park as they negotiate the daily struggles of gang violence, drug crime and poverty in modern-day London.
For human interest stories such as this, being able to empathise with the characters is essential. As far as I can see, this is the film’s biggest problem. None of the three central characters is relatable and often come across as quite unlikeable. Performances though are excellent, which leads me to believe the issues here come more from hollow characterisation and weak narrative writing.
Ghetto Bird makes serious attempts to deal with some hugely significant issues: gang violence, drug crime and poverty are all touched upon here. But, while the intent is there and wholly respectable, the approach is way off and lacks the punch required to be impactful. Tonally, it isn’t where it needs to be to have real meaning, and the whole thing just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. And, in the end, I left the film not fully knowing what the point of it was.
The movie is incredibly well-put-together though, boasting an impressive musical accompaniment and stellar cinematography by Marcos Shepherd. Through Shepherd’s camera work, the ‘ghettos’ of London are beautifully put to screen, while the intimacy of these small, self-sufficient communities ripples throughout the movie. It’s just a shame the plot doesn’t expand on this aspect of the film more.
Ghetto Birds had plenty of potential: good performances by the entire cast, great visual and sound design and the intention to tackle difficult subject matters. What it lacks, however, is focus and daring. The focus to create a narrative that’s concise and sincere, and the daring to make Ghetto Birds the hard-hitting drama it could, no, should have been. But, there’s still a lot of fun to be had here. Moreover, Ghetto Bird serves as a promising display of talent for all involved.