The Naked Poet
Film Rating: ****
The Mayfair Hotel
Monday 3rd October 2016
Hosted by Kush Films
Writer/Director/Lead Actor/Financier/Producer/Promoter: Jason Barrett
Screenwriters: Jason Barrett and Ben Peters
Cast: Jason Barrett, Kyla Frye, Petra Letang. Aml Ameen, Kelle Bryan, Fabrizio Santino, Michelle Gayle, Mohammed George, MC Harvey, Ava Charles, Aron Fontaine, Emma Dennis-Edwards and Babatunde Aleshe.
UK 2016 (15) 117 minutes
Produced by Vision In Progress Films, The Naked Poet is the story of Lazarus, (Jason Barrett), a young poet exploring the difficulty with matters of the heart. He finds himself caught up in a love triangle and confronting a painful and confusing decision between his long term girlfriend Louise and new found love Simone.
Essentially it is quite a heartfelt drama about infidelity and sexual desire. Can he have his cake and eat it? Poet Lazurus fools himself into believing that he can maintain numerous relationships, whilst not being responsible for his only child from a past relationship.
The film gives you much to think about. Can a man be in love with two women? Can a heart be split in two? Are the sins of the father visited upon the children? These questions and many more are asked, argued and answered in this dramatic thought provoking real to life depiction of middle class urban life.
The narrative is made even more complex for Lazarus when conflicting answers to these questions are brought forward by his friends Richard, Martin, Femi and Carl.
The Naked Poet is a highly entertaining and thought provoking film reflecting on live, love and friendships between a group of Black male friends and the women in the life of Lazarus.
Although this is well trodden dramatic fare, it was considered, refreshing and often highly amusing. The fact it had a predominantly all Black cast and wasn’t focused on crime or negative stereotypes, well apart from the obvious one, made it stand out as something of a novelty for this genre. An authentic black comedy drama if you like! Whilst it was easy to not be too sympathetic towards Lazarus’s issues, the story at least gave some insight into why he perceived his situation and life choices to be a dilemma and you got a clear sense that it was not something he wanted to entertain forever. Flashbacks hint at why he may find this a dilemma – namely that when he was a a young boy, his father used to entertain different women whilst he was in the house!
Most characters were fairly well fleshed out and not one dimensional cardboard cut outs, none more so than the naked poet Lazarus himself who appeared to be going for full exposure quite regularly, especially in the early scenes of the film.
The poetry side of Lazarus didn’t really come out that much so the title remains something of a mystery although the early scenes leave you in no doubt why he was called the Naked Poet. He wasn’t the only one in the film, so if you like your men naked don’t be late for any screenings of this film! Don’t worry guys, there’s a fair amount of fleshed out female talent on screen too to balance things out!
Some things jar a little bit, for instance there’s a scene where he’s driving home after a night out and has clearly really upset his girlfriend. They stop outside her house. She storms out of the car and heads for home … yet it’s her car he’s driving!
At other times there are a few silences – loss of sound – where they shouldn’t be. The film’s also is a bit too long at just under two hours and a good thirty minutes could easily have been shaved off the running time, so a little more work in the editing suite would be in order.
There’s a nice cameo from triple Tiemo Black comedy award winning Comedian Slim and long time Eastenders fans will recognise a host of former Eastenders stars including Petra Letang as one of Lazarus’s main love interests, Mohammed George and Michelle Gayle. Fabrizio Santino puts in a fine performance too as the white cockney geezer! In fact there are many familiar faces in it giving it an ensemble feel, which greatly adds to the enjoyment of the film. All brought great energy and passion to the performance. MC Harvey put in a fine performance as Lazarus’s best friend, spar and sparring partner. Literally. There are plenty of gym and boxing scenes, so once again if you like your men naked (near) this is definitely a movie for you!
There’s a long backstory to this film, with it having been filmed in 2010, released in 2012. Put on hold, then re-released this year. You can tell there’s been a time delay by the prominence of a certain brand of mobile phone!
The entertaining post screening Q&A showed that there could be a whole new story about the making of this film turned into a film in its own right! The film was screened by Kush Films in one of London’s top hotels, the beautiful five star, Mayfair Hotel, which was befitting for this glamorous film premiere or should that be re-premiere! Whilst the film may not quite have achieved the Mayfair’s ***** rating, it definitely had a lot of class.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town