A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Blue Story is a violent drama about London gangs. It's very violent: Characters are stabbed, shot, hit with bats, punched, and kicked. In some of the more shocking scenes, a character is hit in the head with a brick and later trapped inside a van when it's deliberately set on fire. Another character's arm is broken when someone jumps on it. (Spoiler alert: A character who's left paralyzed after being stabbed chooses to end their life via overdose.) The movie is intercut with real footage of gang fights, including some with knives. There are two teen sex scenes, one of which is between an established couple and another that's more casual (includes bare chests). There's some objectification of women: In one scene, a character convinces a girl to send him sexual photos of herself, which he then shows his friends. Strong language is used throughout -- including words of a sexual and homophobic nature, such as "f--k," "p---y," and "ho." Teens regularly smoke pot and drink. There are few positive messages from the movie; rather, it's used to shine a light on a growing social problem.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
BLUE STORY tells the story of two childhood friends whose relationship is wrecked by a turf war. Friends since school, Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and Marco (Micheal Ward) have successfully managed to avoid the gang violence taking place in the streets around them. But as they grow older, the fact that they grew up in different neighborhoods causes a rift between them, and a set of tragic events is put in motion.
Is it any good?
A tough watch, this film doesn't hide from the destructive violence that it's shining a light on. The fact that the violence involves teens -- some of whom start Blue Story as innocents -- only adds to the shock and despair. Rather than glamorize it, director and writer Andrew Onwubolu (also known as Rapman) shows how easily teens can be drawn into gang life, no matter how reluctantly. The filmmaker actually appears sporadically throughout the movie, breaking the fourth wall and rapping directly to viewers. It's a technique that risks distracting audiences, but it's handled with aplomb and helps fill in gaps within the narrative. Odubola and Ward are great as the best friends who become warring enemies, and though it's a familiar path in storytelling -- think Greek tragedy or Shakespeare -- there's a genuine sadness as you see their relationship deteriorate beyond repair. A twist in the final act feels forced, and there's no happy ending. But, as is reflected in real life, this story rarely does.
The release of Blue Story in the U.K. was surrounded by controversy after a fight broke out between machete-carrying teens at a theater showing the movie. It was subsequently banned from some theaters -- a decision that was widely criticized. Thankfully, after some pressure, theaters changed their mind, as Blue Story is a movie that should be seen, no matter how tough.
Talk to your kids about ...
Discuss the characters of Timmy and Marco. How did they change as the movie developed? What were their motivations? Did you have sympathy for either of them?
How are women portrayed in the movie? Did you find it problematic?
What do you think the movie is trying to say? What can we do to try to prevent gang violence?
Discuss the scene where sexual photos are sent via mobile phone. How do you think the girl in the movie would have felt knowing photos of her were being shared? What are the risks of "sexting"?
- In theaters: November 22, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: May 5, 2020
- Cast: Stephen Odubola, Micheal Ward, Khali Best
- Director: Andrew Onwubolu
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and language throughout, drug use and some sexuality
- Last updated: January 5, 2021
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