Yardie

Impressively atmospheric, Idris Elba’s directorial debut throbs to the bass of sound systems and struts around the dirty street of 80s London with a mean confidence.

It’s the story of a Kingston boy, D, who is sent to London by a criminal kingpin to run some drugs and pay off a Hackney boss called Rico (wildly played by Stephen Graham).

However, while trying to get rid of “da ting”, D is quickly embroiled in his own mess and comes under the threat of violent retribution, even as he swears vengeance after spotting the man who, back in Jamaica, killed his Uncle.

Elba gets the sounds and the dialogue spot on and nails the feel of the squats, dens and streets. It’s a film that consistently swerves cliche, even in its music choices: the soundtrack bursts with Max Romeo, Burning Spear, Dennis Brown and The Heptones, while the distinctive, dramatic score by Dickon Hinchcliffe uses analogue dub plates and unusual sounds such as the Melodica. Better still, Elba knows he’s telling an important story for the black British community, on screen as much as off, and he lets a strong cast showcase their talents – Aml Ameen as D, and  particularly Shantol Jackson as D’s smarting wife, Yvonne.

Yardie has got a unique stamp of personality and cool swagger, which you might expect from Elba, but it’s also got craft, wit and a proper sense of drama. One of the best British films of the year, no doubt about it.