Starring: Damson Idris, Kate Beckinsale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Dagleish, Jaime Winstone
‘Farming’ was the name given to the practice of Nigerian parents in the 60s and 70s, who were working or studying in England, of paying white working class parents to foster their children. This gruelling semi-autobiographical picture from actor turned writer-director Akinnuoye-Agbaje charts his extraordinary harrowing experiences as one such child. It opens with the baby Eni being handed over by his law student parents to foster mum Ingrid Carpenter (Beckinsale), an Essex woman from a gypsy background. The slightly muddled script cannot seem to decide if Ingrid is a brassily resolute salt of the earth heroine or an exploitative Fagin figure but Ingrid favours her other, younger Nigerian adoptees over Eni (played in his young adult manifestation by Idris). Frustrated by finding no outlet for his creative urges, and alienated by the casual and not so casual racism, he begins to rebel. Only sympathetic teacher Ms Dapo (Mbatha-Raw) attempts to reach out. So acute becomes Eni’s self-hating, he joins a racist skinhead gang led by Levi (Dagleish) who adopt him as a kind of pet. It’s a genuinely remarkable and fascinating story but Akinnuoye-Agbaje eschews serious psychological examination in favour of relentlessly brutal and ultimately tiresome scenes of skinhead agro.