The concept of being uprooted – be it literally or metaphorically – lies at the heart of Shola Amoo’s The Last Tree.
Femi has a peaceful life in the idyllic Lincolnshire countryside, where he lives with his white foster mother. His sense of self changes drastically when he moves to a diverse, deprived area of south London.
We leap forward a few years to find Femi (now an imposing Sam Adewumni) surly and street-hardened, if not entirely assimilated: He tells his friends he listens to Tupac, though it’s The Cure that pulses through his headphones. When small-time local gangster Mace (Demmy Ladipo) takes an interest in the rudderless teen, an age-old fork in the road is reached.
There are obvious comparisons between Amoo’s film and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight: both focus on concepts of black masculinity and the struggle to pull away from darkness and find your own light. The lyrical style of The Last Tree, too, feels as though it has to have been inspired by Jenkins’ work, although Amoo’s film speaks to his own personal experiences. The Last Tree is a warm film with delicate performances. (Jack Whiting) Come and see.