Connect with us
Steve McQueen’s Small Axe

Film

Steve McQueen’s Small Axe Gets Off to an Exhilarating Start with Mangrove

Director Steve McQueen didn’t direct a movie for five years, between 2013’s Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave and 2018’s Widows. Now, in one year, he’s made five movies. 

That is if you consider McQueen’s Small Axe cycle to be movies at all. The five films— all of which tell stories of people of color living in England between the 1960s and 1980s— are showing one week at a time on the BBC and now on Amazon Prime, which will likely lead to arguments over whether or not they should be categorized as movies or TV episodes. But they’re movie-length, and the first three of them debuted as films at the New York Film Festival this fall. 

The first of the movies, Mangrove, arrived on Amazon over the weekend, and it gets the series off to a thrilling, exhilarating start. 

Mangrove tells a story that’s likely much better known in Britain than it is elsewhere, of the Mangrove Nine. They were a group of activists who congregated at the Mangrove, a West Indian restaurant and music venue in London’s Notting Hill section. 

Mangrove

Police frequently raided the establishment, leading to a clash in August of 1970 that was characterized as a riot by Scotland Yard. The Mangrove Nine then ended up on trial. 

The film tells this entire story, from the early days of the restaurant to the raid, with the trial taking up the film’s entire second half. It’s a very similar story to Aaron Sorkin’s recent Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago Seven, even covering events that took place just a year later. However, the story structure of Mangrove is very different, going in a more linear manner than the trial-as-framing-device and jumping around of the Sorkin movie. 

The cast includes Shaun Parkes as Frank Crichlow, the owner of the Mangrove restaurant, and Letitia Wright (from Black Panther) as Altheia Jones-LeCointe, who was actually a member of the British wing of the Black Panther Party. There’s also Darcus Howe (Malachi Kirby) and Barbara Beese (Rochenda Sandall), two other Panthers who were also a couple. 

Mangrove

McQueen is clearly telling a story that’s very important in twentieth-century British history, much as the Chicago 7 is often talked about by Americans who were at the frontlines of politics in the late ’60s. But for those unfamiliar with the events, Mangrove tells the story in a way that’s powerful, if often infuriating. 

The next film in the Small Axe cycle, Lovers Rock, isn’t nearly as incendiary- it’s primarily about a dance party, of all things. 

But Mangrove nevertheless gets the Small Axe series off to a fantastic start, with a compelling examination of an important moment in history. 

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Exploring the Life and Career of Steve Perry: From Music to Personal Relationships

Celebrity

Jessica Ralston Husband Death: Tracing the Events Surrounding Her Husband’s Demise!

Celebrity

Memphis Anchor Cause of Death Revealed! How Did She Die?

Celebrity

Kim Gravel’s Journey Through Bell’s Palsy and Embracing Self-Acceptance

Celebrity

Who is Vanessa Bryant’s New Husband? The Truth About Her Current Marriage!

Celebrity

Marlena Shaw Husband: What Caused Her Death?

Celebrity

Is Annie Osgood Gay? Unveiling the Reality Behind Her Alleged Sexual Orientation!

Celebrity

Misty Raney’s We­ll-being and Strength.

Celebrity

Martell Holt Net Worth Martell Holt Net Worth

Martell Holt Net Worth

Culture

Rachel Maddow’s Health Update and Illness Explained

Celebrity

Is Sandra Smith Pregnant? The Latest Updates on Sandra’s Alleged Pregnancy!

Celebrity

Joni Mitchell Announces First Los Angeles Concert In 24 Years

Celebrity

Is Elisabeth Moss Pregnant? Moss Addresses Speculation About Her Pregnancy!

Celebrity

90 Day Fiancé’s Liz Woods Is “Very Blessed” While Finally Confirming New Boyfriend

Celebrity

Star of ‘Emily in Paris’ Faced A Terrifying Health Crisis As Critical Septic Shock Is Revealed

Celebrity

Exploring the Journey of Yasmine Bleeth: From Stardom to a Quiet Life

Celebrity

Connect