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Rage (1999)

Main image of Rage (1999)
35mm, colour, 97 mins
DirectorNewton Aduaka
Production CompanyGranite Filmworks
ProducerNewton Aduaka
 Maria Elena L'Abbate
Written byNewton Aduaka
PhotographyCarlos Arango

Fraser Ayres (Jamie, 'Rage'); Shaun Parkes (Godwin, 'G'); John Pickard (Thomas, 'T'); Alison Rose (Rage's mother Ellen); Shango Baku (Marcus)

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'Rage' is an angry, mixed race youth, living in a working-class area of South London. He and two other young men attempt a burglary in order to gain the money necessary to finance a record they wish to make.

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Rage (d. Newton Aduaka, 2000) was hyped as a violent hip hop style urban movie. It turned out instead to be a sensitive, downbeat and unglamorous portrayal of two working-class black boys and their middle-class white friend on the threshold of adulthood.

Jamie (Fraser Ayres) is a gifted rapper, convulsed by a burning, low-level anger which occasionally explodes - hence the 'Rage' nickname. He is in a line of alienated black male characters beginning with Horace Ové's Pressure (1975) and including Franco Rosso's Babylon (1980). However, Jamie's mixed-race background sets him apart from these antecedents, and this is given a further twist by neatly placing him alongside his two fellow crew members - his black childhood friend 'G' (Shaun Parkes), and 'T' (John Pickard), a white middle-class wannabe.

The Brixton based homeboys are in search of a record deal, which will make or break them. As manhood beckons all are at a critical turning point in their lives. Rage is the most driven; for him the music is all. In music he can find himself - outside of it, South London remains an alienating urban jungle. Rage also has identity problems - is he black or white? In a highly tribal youth culture, his white mother's childhood reassurances that he is neither - just a unique individual - are no longer enough. He badly misses his dead father. Marcus (Shango Baku), a thoughtful old Rasta, becomes a reluctant mentor. Rage indulges Marcus's ganja habit, storing up danger for himself by scoring Marcus' drugs on credit from ruthless local dealer Pin (Wale Ojo).

Troubled by money problems and determined to cut his own record, Rage leads his friends, particularly the reluctant G, on a drastic course of action. The inevitable disaster, humiliation and violence Rage, G and Marcus suffer from the police and Pin spins Rage out of control. His erratic ravings and violence finally drive G and T away. As the bonds of childhood break, each man is left to ponder his own true desire, his position in England at the end of the 20th century. And to choose a destiny.

The quiet lyrical resolution finds Rage coming to terms with himself. As his friends (the symbolic black and white aspects of his personality) drift off into their own orbit, Rage evolves beyond the clichéd 'tragic mulatto', of his earlier incarnation. He is becoming his own unique creation.

Onyekachi Wambu

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Aduaka, Newton (1966-)
Black British Film
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