Written, directed by and starring Adam Deacon, Anuvahood is the antithesis of grimy thrillers set on run-down London housing estates. This is a bright, vibrant film, its knowing costume design differentiating sharply between individuals and sects within the community.
Anuvahood’s protagonist, Kenneth (Deacon), or ‘K’ as he longs to be known, is typical of his ilk. Someone who has watched one episode of The Wire and somehow thinks he is living the life, Kenneth aspires to be a gangster, or at least a gangster rapper. Dressed in cotton jersey tracksuits, wraparound sunglasses, even an ironic ‘Timmy Mallet’ (and Mallet’s Mallet) vest, Kenneth selects random style notes with no real clue as to the statement he is making.
Each central character in the story is given a costume identity. T.J. (Jazzie Zonzolo), probably Kenneth’s closest, in fact only real friend at this point, is always dressed in one lurid colour, such as neon blue or pink, matching baseball cap and socks, rolled up denim or long shorts, plus immaculate Nike low-top trainers. Supposedly Spanish Enrique (Ollie Barbieri), a fresh face to the ‘hood’, wears an overcoat covered in pin and sew-on badges, beaded necklaces, keys chain, red vest with ‘España’ emblazoned across the front, pale jeans and pointed toe leather boots.
The rest of Kenneth’s crew all work their own looks, e.g. Bookie’s (Femi Oyeniran) afro comb and Lesoi’s (Michael Vu)’s straightforward loose tees, but even more interesting is the sartorial signposting of villain Tyrone (Richie Campbell). Dumb and hilarious, though disconcertingly vile during the finale, Tyrone is constantly seen with his track pants pulled down past his rear to display, in one memorable scene, ‘Bullseye’ Bully underwear. It says a lot about such a blowhard that he is so obsessed by his appearance, even going so far as to specially arrange his pants before confronting Kenneth for their big showdown.
Certain costume subdivides are more noticeable than others. The terrified yuppie couple (played by Doon Mackichan and Alex MacQueen) living perched on the edge of the ‘hood are model Marks & Spencer blandness. Adam Deacon and costume designer Rob Nicholls have a keen eye for what stands out as immediately amusing yet also rings true. Tyrone’s gang, for example, dress almost nothing like him, their garb more akin to hip hop group N.W.A during their glory days; head to toe black and grey jersey with matching cap (optional).
This retro air is perceptible with most of the ‘hood costumes. There is a definite early 90’s Hollywood vibe in place evoking White Men Can’t Jump (1992), Boyz n the Hood (1991), even New Jack City (1991); discernibly American urban symbolism that has filtered down through music and movies – and vice versa. Colourful and creative ensembles of branded sportswear reappropriated as every day casual wear began in the street, but were soon refined and made emblematic by film. However, a very traditional, 100 year old hierarchy still exists.
All those either playing criminal or walking that path for real (contrast Kenneth with Tyrone) aspire to the lounge suit. What does local kingpin Mike (Wil Johnson) choose as his daily armour; loud Adidas t-shirt or dark grey, silk blend, single breasted suit? Logo heavy sportswear is still the badge for those ‘coming up’, but subtle designer suits are still the goal; the mark of having ‘made it’.
Costume ensembles in Anuvahood are consistent throughout. Kenneth obviously ends up (by choice) back in a ‘J. Laimsbury’s’ uniform and Enrique gains a hooded top beneath his coat and baseball cap, a nod that he is now accepted among his peers. Yet, urban wear remains at the forefront, which as the guise of the street is both apt and realistic. If you want to belong, you must fit in.
You can watch movies online including Adam Deacon in Anuvahood at LOVEFiLM.com.
© 2011 – 2013, Chris Laverty.