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Wondrous Oblivion
cast: Delroy Lindo, Emily Woof, Stanley Townsend, Sam Smith

director: Paul Morrison

106 minutes (PG) 2004
widescreen ratio 1.77:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 rental and retail
Also available to rent on video

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Eleven-year-old David Wiseman (Sam Smith) is cricket-mad. Unfortunately, he's rubbish at it. When he's offered coaching by his new next-door neighbour Dennis (Delroy Lindo), and his talented young daughter Judy (Leonie Elliot), it seems like a perfect solution. But this is 1950s' London, and Dennis and his family are newly arrived from the Caribbean. The Wisemans are Polish immigrants themselves, and viewed with caution by their insular neighbourhood: but black immigrants are a step too far for some, and soon racial hatred threatens to tear the community apart. Now a school hero because of his cricketing skills, David chooses his newfound popularity over Judy's friendship - and it's going to take a near tragedy to make him see what's really important in life...

This is the sort of film that the British film industry has traditionally done best: a heart-warming working-class story of childhood friendship and community spirit. The performances are uniformly excellent: Sam Smith makes David a real 11-year-old, good-hearted but easily swayed by peer pressure, and Stanley Townsend is excellent as David's ambitious father, haunted by the racial prejudice that drove them to Britain in the first place. Lindo and Elliot are also splendid, playing believable characters with their own problems and weaknesses. The film also captures a strong sense of the British Afro-Caribbean community, a parallel, hidden social world existing alongside drab post-war London. Perhaps the sudden upsurge in tolerance and community spirit towards the end is a little fanciful (unfortunately), but all in all, Wondrous Oblivion is a brave and enjoyable look at a period of British history that has been unjustly ignored for too long. Highly recommended - even if you hate cricket!

DVD extras comprise a trailer, a featurette that mostly tells you the fairly obvious, and a detailed, enjoyable commentary from director Paul Morrison.
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