Wale – 45% Out Of 100

There is a lot I don’t understand about this film.

Aside from being very well acted with Raphel Famotibe shining as Wale (definitely, one to watch for the future) and exceedingly well shot to a fantastic quality level, there are so many plot holes I can’t focus.

The film follows Wale, a previous young offender trying to rise above the grips of his situation by using his newly learned mechanic-skills to get a good job. My first plot hole issue. Even in whatever ‘ends’ he hails from, there will be independent garage owners. You don’t necessarily have to go online to apply and admit in an impersonal form you have previous offences and independent garages in such communities can be sympathetic towards chequered pasts. So why walk around a market randomly asking people if they need a mechanic? If they needed one they would have gone to a garage instead of being in a market happily buying meat and other produce.

Secondly, when Wale does find someone who seems to need a mechanic (played by Jamie Sives), he becomes the most trusting dolt on earth. He is 18, not 8 and a previous young offender; if anything, he should be smarter than the average bear not sillier, but he follows like a baby into a situation made up entirely of his own foolishness. The car owner invites Wale into his home, tells him to take his car to service and then bring it back. Wale seems to not think any written consent might be a good idea to leave with when, ding dong he is black, in another person’s car, a white man’s car at that. What if he is stopped by the police? What if the police call this owner and he suddenly changes his tune and reports the car stolen? Wale’s lack of street savvy is dizzying and rather annoying given that this is set in modern times where to be black is usually to err on the side of caution because the likelihood is, the law never comes down on your side in cases of opaqueness.

Added to this deep naivete, is another question. I don’t want to give too much away about the film as this is where I started to get into it and ceased being able to question it as it was entertaining and gripping from the moment Wale opens the boot of the car. But here is the question. Before he left with the car, why didn’t he do an inventory on what was in the car? That the owner should co-sign? Like any sensible mechanic would do, seeing as the owner could suddenly start spouting that their nan’s golden locket from world war infinite was in the car and is irreplaceable and then… hello it’s a police matter.

There was a lot that kept me scratching and shaking my head at this film. If they were going to make the lead actor so lost in the milk of human goodness, they should not have made him a young black, previous offender who was raised on an estate council with a loving but relatively strict mother. She would have instilled sense in him and if not her, the streets would have; and if not the streets, juvie would have … and as Wale says, he is a “quick learner‘.

*** Since writing my review it appears the title has been updated to ‘Wale‘. Its original title was ‘Wale & the Time Traveller‘ which was curious. The title implied some idea of science fiction so would have gripped audiences for the wrong reasons if they choose to watch it. A bit like the cover of a book advertising The Chronicles of Narnia when actually, you are about to read about Stalin. I would have rathered this was a black YA science fiction short but it never remotely reached that road. So, the title change makes perfect sense.

There may be a fair bit of rethinking for Barnaby Blackburn to do on this film’s script. Perhaps extending it into a feature so that it can incorporate a science fiction lean might be an idea as it does have potential and would make the story more original. It’s a shame he shot the short before ironing out script as he directed it fantastically well and put all the other elements together beautifully.


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