Cameos from Pete Davidson and 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan are enjoyable diversions but the jokes themselves are less high-concept, hinging on the men’s thoughts, which are mostly predictable (and predictably crass).
Rafeea, a non-professional actor and Syrian refugee, is the film’s secret weapon. At times, the tragedy unfolding on screen feels borderline unwatchable, but his strange, fascinating, eerily adult face offers a litany of minute expressions. There is a wisdom, a soulfulness, and an icy, angry candour that feels lived rather than performed.
There’s an inherent irony in any drama that places her centre stage. Yet at a time when news itself is under fire, with journalists demeaned and attacked by despots bent on obliterating the very concept of truth, perhaps Colvin’s story is more relevant than ever.
I’m a huge fan of Cornish’s 2011 debut Attack the Block, but this film isn’t nearly as energetic or enjoyably wacky as its predecessor. In fairness, it’s pitched at a considerably younger audience, but at two hours it drags; less patient children may struggle.
The tone is weird, seesawing between broad comedy (Tig Notaro and Octavia Spencer as hardened adoption agency workers) and manipulative melodrama (I hate to admit it, but a standoff between Pete, Ellie and Lizzy moved me to tears).
The result is another mesmerising and wholly immersive experience from a film-maker whose love of the medium of cinema – and fierce compassion for Baldwin’s finely drawn characters – shines through every frame.