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  Drifters, The Immigrant Snog
Year: 2019
Director: Benjamin Bond
Stars: Jonathan Ajayi, Lucie Bourdeu, Tia Bannon, Ariyon Bakare, Joey Akubeze, Jonjo O'Neill, Thom Petty, Tom Sweet
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Koffee (Jonathan Ajayi) met Fanny (Lucie Bourdeu) in college, where they were both attending classes to learn English in London since they were both hailing from abroad: Koffee was a migrant who had travelled from Africa, and Fanny was French. They were brought together to improvise some scene by their tutor, which gave Koffee all the excuse he needed to strike up conversation with the girl, and soon they had hit it off, with Fanny telling him of her ambitions to become a movie star in Hollywood. All she had to do was travel there, after learning enough English, and meet Quentin Tarantino, then her career would fall into place. Soon, the besotted young man was pledging that he would follow her there, just let him secure a passport...

Before you start worrying, oh no, not another Tarantino knock-off, The Drifters was not like that - and neither was it a musical biopic of the American soul vocal group, for that matter. The real inspiration for writer and director Benjamin Bond appeared to be sixties Jean-Luc Godard, specifically Pierrot Le Fou where Jean-Paul Belmondo had followed Anna Karina around in the French sunshine to his ultimate cost. It was all here, the bright Technicolor, the jump cuts, the monologues, the pop culture references, the seemingly casual attitude to plotting, and so forth, and as Godard himself had given up making films like this a long time ago, it was amusing to see a younger director embrace his techniques and stylings with such enthusiasm.

Of course, being that slavish to the past can leave a project looking less like its own thing, and more like an impersonation, and there was a danger of that here, certainly, as it did have a studied tone in places that left it coming across rather airlessly. But the two leads definitely had chemistry as their characters grew more affectionate, basically visiting the seaside and hanging out there for most of the movie. That said, there was a clock ticking as someone is tracking Koffee down: Doog (Joey Akubeze), his old boss who got him caught up in crime in return for an Irish passport which he covets as his entry to anywhere in the world he wants to go: even Hollywood, with Fanny. Koffee made the mistake of smashing Doog over the head to escape his office, and now, having grabbed his gun, the boss will stop at nothing to get his revenge - and his gun back.

That part sounded like a thriller, but in the main The Drifters played like a romance, and a sweet one at that despite the lapses in judgement the couple made separately and together. This affair did not exist in a vacuum, and if anything this made the point that nothing really does: Brexit is mentioned a number of times, and we could see the rest of the world outside Britain was always going to be present, no matter how far some would try to block it out and be entirely self-sufficient. The locations were well chosen, and they were very lucky with the weather, channelled into a playful mood that was infectious even as you may regard our observation of the pair as at one remove, as if they are living in a bubble before reality reasserts itself. The fact that we increasingly become aware the love affair cannot last crafted a poignant mood, and while there was the odd laugh from their antics, largely we watched them with a low level sadness, knowing their dreams will probably not come to fruition. Mostly, it was a testament to a very Godardian spirit: grab a camera, get a couple of actors, et voila, you have a movie! Music by Zero VU.

[THE DRIFTERS is released in virtual cinemas from 2 April and on demand 5 April 2021. Click here for more.

Click here to buy at iTunes.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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