Small Axe: Alex Wheatle

Director: Steve McQueen
Year Released: 2020
Rating: 3.0

Touching biopic of British novelist Wheatle (Sheyi Cole) who was raised in a children's home away from his Jamaican parents (he had health problems), grows up and finds a great group of cohorts, gets involved in the Brixton Uprising and is imprisoned, and upon release decides to become a writer.  Unlike some of the other Small Axe films, this entry shows McQueen at his most empathetic and focused: Wheatle's friendship with Dennis (Jonathan Jules) and Badger (Khali Best) help him become streetwise and his bonding with Rastafarian cellmate Simeon (Robbie Gee) nudges him to become interested in studying about his people and his own past (Simeon makes a great point about class when all everyone wants to talk about is race).  The material involving community anger over the death of several black youths in a fire - and their confrontation with the police - reminds me of the tragic 1963 murder of four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama by White Supremacists ... and the rioting now in 2020 over the deaths of George Floyd in MPLS and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.  It just never ends....