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

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?