Kidulthood: Does it really reflect inner-city life?

Every once in a while, along comes a film that causes an almighty stink. Usually it contains scenes of teenagers toying with sex, violence or drugs against a landscape that adults find alarmingly alien. Kidulthood ticks all of the aforementioned boxes in outrageously fluorescent spray-paint, and has an acid wit and a gutter vernacular straight from the back of a number 52 bus. But what we see is nothing new. The film is about teenagers and shows what some teenagers have always done.

"There is nothing in this film that is not based on reality and that isn't happening already," says the writer and co-star Noel Clarke. "And we will stand by that. What you see is in the newspapers every day! It's constant. When I was writing the script I was collecting at least three or four articles a week about teenagers getting up to bad stuff, and I did that for a whole year; it goes on right under our noses... a lot of people might see the film as controversial, but I wanted to make something as true to life as possible"

Clarke knows what he is talking about. He grew up in a small council flat with his mother in London's Ladbroke Grove, exactly where the film is located. "Trife, the main character of the film," says Clarke, "well, his bedroom in the film was actually my bedroom when I used to live with my mum in that block of flats, and the character Sam, the school bully, who I play, is based on a guy who tried to bully my friend at school. It's all real, man!"

The film follows three 15-year-old schoolfriends - Trife (Aml Ameen), Jay (Adam Deacon) and Moony (Femi Oyeniran) - as they go about their everyday business of beatings in the classroom, sex on the playing field, and drugs in the schoolyard - until school is cancelled due to the suicide of the tall, pretty and relatively posh, Katie (Rebecca Martin). All three boys, certainly not children but definitely not adults, are in teenage limbo and Trife, in particular, suffers. Tempted into the gangster lifestyle by his homicidal Yardie drug-dealing uncle, he discovers that his girlfriend Alisa (Red Madrell) has slept with someone else, while she not only realises that she is pregnant but finds that her best friend Becky (Jamie Winstone) is regularly swapping blowjobs for bags of coke and handfuls of E.

"I think the film is a true reflection of inner-city life for a lot of young people," says Floetic Lara, a youth worker and young people's representative for Lambeth local authority. "It touches on some very prominent issues without trying to pretty them up. The storyline might be a bit shocking for some but, unfortunately, it is very real."

Fuelled by a 100 per cent Brit soundtrack courtesy of The Streets, Dizzee Rascal, Roots Manuva, and Audio Bullys, the film rolls along at a cracking pace with effortless performances from a largely unknown, but thoroughly multicultural, cast. "The British film industry doesn't make films about this generation," says the film's director, Menhaj Huda. "I live in west London and I see these kids and they are different from previous generations, they talk different, walk different and listen to different music, and this film really represents them. This isn't the Richard Curtis W11, this is real."

To get such a film made was not a stroll in the park. The director explains: "After initial interest from FilmFour and the UK Film Council, who hold the purse-strings for the Lottery Fund, we were left to find funding ourselves," recalls Huda, who eventually remortgaged his flat in Los Angeles to get the film on the road."And, once the film was made, neither Edinburgh or the London Film Festival would show it," he adds, bitterly. "I think that even though you might not like what this film is saying, it is well-made and well-acted and it should have been shown at the LFF as it is the most London film there is, but they all turned their noses up at it."

"I think the reason for some of the hostility is that a lot of parents don't want to think that their child might be behaving like this," say Clarke. "It makes them feel really uncomfortable, but this is just one day in three kids' lives - a particularly bad day."

Another perplexing aspect of the film for many adults might be the way that it deals with the older generation. Entirely marginalised, the rarely-glimpsed adults are on the periphery and seen as strange, antediluvian creatures whose clothing, attitudes and opinions are quietly gathering dust in the corner.

"Teenagers live in their own little bubble and what is so disconcerting is that this world is so extreme and so different from the older generations," says the 19-year-old Jamie Winstone, the daughter of Ray, whose film Scum caused a similar furore more than 27 years ago. "Even since I was in school everything has changed and accelerated so fast. It's mad. Now teenage girls buy magazines with the sexual position of the week across the pages, at a time when their bodies are changing and they are discovering what their bodies can get them.

"My character is basically prostituting herself, and thinks she is four steps ahead when basically she is four steps behind, and as a result ends up a sad case as no one will touch her."

An immensely moral tale, Kidulthood will open the eyes of many and close the ears of some. "I think it's quality," says my 16-year-old nephew and Ladbroke Grove resident, Louis Seresin. "At last there's a film that shows how it is. I think they should show it in schools right now. It's standard, man."

'Kidulthood' opens today

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions