The Drifters, directed by first-time director Benjamin Bond, is a romantic drama following young immigrants Fanny (Lucie Bourdeu) and Koffee (Jonathan Ajayi) who are looking for adventure in post-Brexit Britain. The film moves between quirky and sweet charm with competence. Unfortunately, it only tackles the context of post-Brexit Britain tangentially, so much so that this component could have been removed without altering any fundamentals of the story.
There is a myriad of implications tied up in the context of Brexit, whether that be a move away from globalisation, increased nationalism, vitriol of neglected working class communities, increased intolerance and so on. The film attempts to tackle Brexit in microcosm, with a small character driven story. However, on this level The Drifters is a disappointment, not because the film is heavy-handed and politically spoon-feeds its audience, but because it’s too simplistic. It only gives lip service to its topics rather than it really having anything worthwhile to say.
Maybe the idea is that ultimately Brexit and big political issues aren’t actually important
Koffee (Jonathan Ajayi) is an African immigrant, who lives illegally in Britain and wants to leave. The film tries to tie this to Brexit, but it seems very insignificant when he is also being chased by someone who wants revenge for being wronged. Maybe the idea is that ultimately Brexit and big political issues aren’t actually important. This is potentially interesting, but the film isn’t well defined enough to make this implication feel anything other than accidental.
The film’s lack of actual social commentary is not necessarily an issue. However, by naming big political buzzwords like Brexit and Trump, the film should be scrutinised for not fully understanding its own material. The film wants you to think it is important, but really it isn’t. It’s simply a bittersweet romance.
As a bittersweet romance, the film is fine
As a bittersweet romance, the film is fine. It’s a tad disposable, but the broad strokes of the characters are interesting and the performances are good. Lucie Bourdeu’s performance as Fanny is particularly excellent. She elevates the material and provides the film a sense of pathos. Fanny could have been an exasperating character but Bourdeu makes her endearing.
Unfortunately, other elements of the film feel less fully realised. For example, the film uses many flashy gimmicks and in the process the film’s POV becomes needlessly convoluted. For example, Fanny is able to break the fourth wall and Koffee isn’t and I’m not sure why. This is not a major issue and it doesn’t break the film, but it is shallow style, which could have been made more interesting.
The visuals are also slightly uninteresting. Bond’s direction is competent, the use of anamorphic lenses does give the visuals a character they otherwise wouldn’t have had. However, for a film of this small scale and one no less than inspired by the French New Wave, it could and should have more edge. Strangely, everything feels a little staged and generic. There is a lack of energy and so the character’s personalities and the visual approach feel a little incoherent.
There is just enough charm to prevent the film being redundant
The Drifters as a whole is unsatisfying, but it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. There is just enough charm to prevent the film being redundant. Lucie Bourdieu’s performance gives the film its heart and without her it may have been cold. Everything else ranges from good to lacklustre, so after the fact, regrettably, it is a little unmemorable.
The Drifters releases in virtual cinemas on the 2nd April 2021 and will be on demand on the 5th April 2021.
In-article images courtesy of @driftersmovie via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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