A Moving Image (3 stars)

A Moving Image

Shola Amoo's heartfelt debut deals with the complex and pertinent issue of gentrification

A small film with big ambitions and an even bigger heart, A Moving Image has a message that goes beyond its limited scope. This story of an artist who returns to her childhood home to find it changed beyond measure may be deeply personal, but it also has broader resonance in an age where the social gaps between classes and races seem to be widening.

The charming and effervescent Tanya Fear is Londoner Nina who, after years living in trendy Shoreditch, returns to the Brixton home of her youth. She is shocked to find it gentrified beyond recognition, and decides to embark on a filmmaking project to document the changing community, and those who would fight for their right to stay.

As Nina turns her camera on the residents of Brixton – including the outspoken activist Big Ben (Yinka Oyewole), local campaigner Dionne (Yrsa Daley-Ward) and a host of real-life local characters – she creates a vibrant, poignant portrait of a community under threat, but defiant. What's perhaps more interesting from a dramatic point of view, however, is the fact that Nina is forced to admit that she may well play a part in the problem; as a returning artist living in a huge loft that most locals couldn't afford, she represents the first wave of the change she is so horrified by.

Despite a winning performance from Fear, writer-director Shola Amoo's debut feature is not quite fully formed. Certain narrative strands, such as Nina's battle with depression, which gives a nostalgic tint to her outlook, and two potential relationships – with local artist Ayo (a very funny Aki Omoshaybi) and new resident (and famous actor) Mickey (Alex Austin) – are never properly fleshed out. And the fact that the film fails to reach a definitive conclusion may speak to the ongoing struggles faced by communities such as Brixton, but it feels like an idea that's run out of steam.

Nevertheless, it's a film with something to say, and an interesting way of saying it. A Moving Image may strike the strongest chord with those who have a working knowledge of Brixton, but video testimonials from residents of New York City and Berlin give it universal relevance that's impossible to ignore.

Selected release from Fri 28 Apr.

A Moving Image

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • UK
  • 1h 14min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Shola Amoo
  • Cast: Tanya Fear, Hussina Raja, Yrsa Daley-Ward,
  • UK release: 28 April 2017

Nina (Fear) is a filmmaker who returns to her home of Brixton after years of living away, to find it gentrified beyond recognition. A personal story with broader resonance (Nina recognises that she herself is part of the gentrification), it’s not quite fully formed but Fear gives a winning performance, and the use of real…