A Way Of Life


Harsh and brutal, but heart-scrunchingly sad too, Brit helmer Amma Asante's debut feature is unforgettable. It's nominally about racism, poverty and crime in the blasted, terraced wastelands of post-industrial South Wales, but her affection for her flawed and vicious young characters lifts it into a vivid human realm that cheapo Trainspotting clones like Twin Town can only dream of.

A one-time child actor herself (she was in Grange Hill years ago), Assante draws staggering performances from her cast of first-time locals, but none better than that from Stephanie James as Leigh-Anne. A single teen mother slipsiding inevitably towards hateful racist violence, her vicious "Paki"-baiting seems all the more painful in contrast to the all-consuming love she has for her baby girl. She's the flawed soul at the core of a virtually flawless film.

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