Guava Island, 2019
Signed up the 28/03/2017
Donald Glover and Hiro Murai are a collaborative entity not short of self-confidence fueled by the peculiar. The mystery and suspense around their new project before its Saturday debut at Coachella and Amazon Prime is right on brand. Dubbed a "tropical thriller" by the streaming platform, Guava Island is nothing short of the title.
The film establishes itself, from the animated title sequence to the opening sequence, as a
showcase of Black love, Black art, a harmonious Black community at its purest.
The film is here to disrupt the order of capitalism, and it does so unashamedly, but it also manages to be stereotypically preachy and disconnected from its core audience; obviously Rihanna and Childish Gambino fans, who are mostly made up of fiery millennials. The film highlights the effects of capitalism and how it corrupts us all in the end using a children's storybook approach. This way the concepts are easy to grasp, and helps deliver the underlying message of this film more effectively; uprisings to challenge social norms are important for your well-being as well as others, don't just lay low and take the ill-treatment because its widely accepted.
There are many things you can call this film, an extended music video, a visual album, etc. I interpreted it as a storyboard turned musical. This is a Black musical that doesn't really bother itself with exposing or exploiting Black pain, and instead makes you want to overcome it and float in fulfillment and love!
The writers effortlessly portrat that a Black paradise (settlement) is possible without white interference or the need of white presence, without needing to involve that race in any form lest it takes away from the Black experience. This Black paradise still encounters its own misadventures nonetheless. Afterall there are good people and villains in any origin. Still though, this film insists that Black stories (with an all-Black cast) can be as interesting and engaging as the white Hollywood we've been fed for centuries.
Black is so, so beautiful. Being Black is amazing, no matter the shit we've been made to go through.
Guava Island is probably a new-age masterclass in how to shoot, track and colour Black films. In fact, every technical aspect of this film can be considered a template for how to make films, especially for streaming services, moving forward. I haven't come across a film more engaging in how its shot and edited.
The flow from from the camera movement, to the rise and fall of music and sounds and particular moments makes this film feel like a natural experience more than anything. Guava Island feels real enough to want to be apart of. You want to run around the streets singing to your fellow brothers and sisters, use musical notes to express adoration to you love, and have weekly communions to celebrate the beauty of life.
It's all so enticing to look at. Hiro Murai really gave his best in directing this film. The performances from the cast are also instinctively melodious and natural. The chemistry everyone that interacts on screen shares makes it feel like a paradise like this would be possible in waking life, especially to kids who'll get to watch it at a very early stage in their lives.
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