Movie Review: Ghett’A Life (2011)

I pride myself on being a lover of film first and a Jamaican second. A lot of people will come to me and talk to me about the newest films at the cinema and we end up in a discussion about the merits and drawbacks of certain movies. I always tend to end up at an impasse at some point where they will begin to laud the film for certain particular set pieces and or the fact that the story happened to occur in Jamaica. At times I happen to find those things distracting as opposed to intriguing.

A couple months ago I ended up in a conversation about the purpose of film. A friend of mine said that film exists for the sole purpose to either entertain or educate its audience, while I don’t agree with that statement completely I do believe that it’s a nice benchmark to set for most movies.  This movie however failed to entertain me for the mere reason that it I hold stories of this genre, gang driven dramas, to a higher level than what was presented to me, and the film also failed to educate me on the topic of inner city violence for the mere reason that I live here and know about it already.

If you’ve ever watching Third World Cop, another film directed by Chris Browne (the director of Ghett’A Life), then you’ve seen the inner community setting that he tries to highlight with this film and it hasn’t changed that much since then. The area remains just as divided as it was before and also just as poorly acted.

I feel that this movie was meant for two groups of people: either the people in foreign markets who don’t know that much about the garrison violence that occurs in Jamaica; or the people in Jamaica who’re all over the age of forty and feel that everyone else in Jamaica doesn’t know that this is happening. The problem with that is that I don’t belong to either of those groups and like the parties in the film (and real life Jamaica) I don’t partake in either of their parlour magic that they seem to have working on the masses and therefore a lot of the education that the main character learns throughout the runtime of the movie becomes time that I waste in the theatre.

Many may say that that other films that I laud and fail to truly educate me on the topic at hand, since I walk into the movie with previous knowledge, do the very same thing. However, in most cases when that happens I tend to laud the film for other artistic qualities. Since this movie resembles none of those, that you may see in a Fincher, Gondry, Malick, Nolan or Aronofsky film, then the film begins to drag and then you start to pay attention to all the things that makes movies (as a whole) derivative.

I know that a lot of Jamaica will praise this film, mainly due to the underlying message that the film wants to put across (which is a good and true message), but I felt it could’ve been done better.

Rating: 4.0/10

 

  • Anonymous

    im jamaican first and always give ja films a pass lol, mek dem do  wah dem wan do

    i get what your saying though.

  • Kazeroh

    just a thought i have had for some time- i believe the difficulty here is that jamaica has taken its theatre culture and applied it to movies. since the theatre culture has many years behind it and the movie culture so few, the actors available for any movie parts will unfortunately use the theatre style they know. and new actors will be trained in the same style. so in that regard i accept the difficulty in getting the appropriate acting ability for such a movie. doesnt mean this has to be accepted tho.

    what i am more annoyed by tho is the fact that every movie coming out of JA has to be about crime or the ghetto life. while i dont deny that that is an aspect of JA life, and i respect the fact of the many stories coming out of this context- many interesting stories too, i hav to say its about time we acknowledge that JA should have other stories to tell, cuz ghetto life is jus one aspect. And no, im not referring to uptown. just anything generally. even just original stories using the jamaican context as a background. anything could be done. it jus doesnt have to be the ghetto all the time.

  • http://www.gmanreviews.com Andrew Robinson

    I agree with you 100%. I’ve felt that the acting is hindered, not so much from a lack of talent, but a lack of understanding of how this medium works. 

    Also, I feel that most (if not all) of the local films being made right now are aboiut ghetto life and gang violence because that isn’t so much as just an aspect of Jamaican culture, but it pretty much is. Also, if you look at it from a perspective of current film popularity it’s the easiest story to tell and sell in a market where action is the main selling point. 

    However, like you I can’t wait for the day where not only is all the talent in front of the camera much improved but we realise that there’re other stories that can be told. I remember listening to the writer of Little Miss Sunshine talk about how they got their movie made and he said that that movie taught him that EVERYONE HAS A STORY TO TELL, no matter how insignificant it may seem. there’s always a story worth telling. Hopefully JA filmmakers see this and come up to do great things. 

    If only I could write my own screenplay. I wonder what it would be?

  • http://www.gmanreviews.com Andrew Robinson

    I must say though, it looks kind of great. Shot on the RED camera, and projected digitally. But still not the directorial flair that I look for in a lot of my favourite films.

  • fan

    jamaica is not very involved in the film industry and they are trying to be… but first they have to develop movies that people of the country can relate to. romance and action films would be a big step that most of the directors cannot master as yet because of lack of resources… this film was low budget and it delivered the message appropriately. if you cannot see beyond the gang violence and the political warfare then you clearly missed the message in the film. the film leans towards unity more than anything else… and that is what it aims to achieve

  • jamaican

    how many of the people have seen the …. movie how much money does it take to  make  a movie ….. and what are we all doing to make it  better ….. how many movies come out of jamaica ……..yea we always  do “crap”  as some may say…. but i have seen the show  and it is better and  alot of big budget movies  that come out of the USA. I watched the movie  and  i was  proud to be jamaican  i say that alot of work went into  this work of art …… some may like  some may not ….. but for this show more  than 90% of the people  who watched it loved it so before u review , review your mind and see deeper than what the USA has to offer  well done cast and prduction team for a beautiful all jamaican film blessings  hope we see more movies like this and  people watch the  move befor u coment … ONE LOVE

  • jamaican

    ps. i like your last  coments  and what  it tells me  is that u think that jamaicans  dont know any better….. but we do

  • jamaican

    have u seen Ghett’a life

  • Marteljones53

    an all jamaican film with a all jamaican cast that came together on screen to make it jamaican i’m proud of all involved and for the jamaican sponsorship that the movie had gained to make it possible. i do agree that the movie lacked a great international perspective but i do believe given the resources the film was a major success and is world class thumbs up to the cast and crew for a job well done  

  • Jamaica

    No american would like it because the only struggle america has been through is losing its perfect credit rating. to understand the movie u have 2 understand the situation i.e it must be realistic to you(such as u should b able 2 imagine a close friend or relative in the situation. NOTE: the avg rating in 3rd world countries was 9.8/10 so it was actually very good :D

    ps we hav american movies in Jamaica also but because we understand the comedy it is better to us :p

  • Dharmagirl02

    I am an avid movie watcher with high standards and a jamaican and I loved this movie. I am also young and am quite socially conscious and aware of the reality of our political and social situation and did not find this movie boring or ‘old newsish’. Unlike many movies made nowadays on bigger budgets, this movie made me go through a range of emotions from sadness, to happiness, to anger. I also buss out laughing and found myself saying ‘that is sooo true!’ on several occasions. For me I was proud to see this film and felt that i was not just patronizing it because it was a JA film. The quality of the cinematography, the acting was on point. I believed it. Both the subtle details and the larger story arc resonated with me. It was soo much more entertaining than watching the 15th against the odds story from America, because the backdrop and the issues were home.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I do agree that many of the underlying meanings and humor will only be understood by other Jamaicans and possibly Caribbeans. But hey, we are so saturated with eurocentric movies full of middle class white people that I for one am refreshed to laugh at jokes and see a story on the big screen that is true to my experience…..