A movie of tactile sensuality and levitating joy, Lovers Rock finds the always daring Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years a Slave) in an ecstatic yet no less formally bold mode. Produced as part of McQueen’s ambitious, multifaceted Small Axe, an anthology of decades-spanning films that alights on various lives in London’s West Indian community, the intoxicating, early-eighties-set Lovers Rock takes place largely over one night at a house party. While McQueen and co-screenwriter Courttia Newland have constructed their ethereal narrative around the growing attraction between Martha (newcomer Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) and a brooding stranger (Micheal Ward), the film is equally about the rapture of music, specifically the reggae genre of the title—typified in the film’s swooning centerpiece set to Janet Kay’s euphoric 1979 single “Silly Games”—and the thrill and liberation of bodies in motion, miraculously photographed by Shabier Kirchner. An Amazon Studios release.
Steve McQueen’s Small Axe
Among the most remarkable achievements in recent world cinema, Steve McQueen’s anthology Small Axe consists of five films that stirringly chronicle the experiences of London’s West Indian immigrant community across a tumultuous period from the 1960s through the 1980s. Each film is a distinct and singular work in its own right; taken together, they form a powerful, complex, immersive, and endlessly rich historical portrait of oppression, resistance, and survival, glimpsed through the prism of the post-colonial experience. Join Film at Lincoln Center to celebrate McQueen’s accomplishment with a series of screenings of all five films within Small Axe, including a special two-week run of Lovers Rock (the NYFF58 Opening Night Film).
Watch our latest Q&A with Steve McQueen on the making of Small Axe.
Watch our Q&A and press conference from the 58th New York Film Festival below.
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