Indie Gems: Been So Long

Time to put yourself out there.

Simone (Michaela Cole) is a single mother living in Camden whose party girl best friend, Yvonne (Ronke Adekoluejo) forces her to go out and have fun for once. She meets Raymond (Arinzé Kene) who is fresh out of prison and wearing an ankle monitoring device. Sparks fly, but Simone isn't sure if this is right for her. Throw in a bar tender with a crush, (Luke Norris) a strange homeless man with a vendetta against Raymond, (George McKay) and Simone's former addict ex (Joe Dempsie) and some music, and we have our story.

Admittedly, the plot isn't anything new. How many romantic comedies start this way? Probably all of them, but the way we see Been So Long is what makes it stand apart. I can't think of many films that show London drenched in neon or have songs where someone sings that they're going to go out, then sit on someone's face. It's not all vulgar but when it wants to be it sprinkles it in perfectly.

Cole and Kene have amazing chemistry together. Cole in particular is an actress I really enjoy and I love seeing her do so many different roles. Everyone in the cast also has lovely singing voices. I will say that the songs don't always seem fully formed. They're quite short compared to other movie musicals but the actors perform them very well. The most peculiar thing about this film is its subplots. There are many aside from Simone and Yvonne, and they're nearly all a bit whacky..but the end up working in their own strange way.

I had no idea Joe Dempsie was in this movie (or that he could sing) so his few moments were nice. McKay's character doesn't have a backstory and when he's first introduced, I assumed he was supposed to be a tweaker but as the film went on that probably wasn't the case. His plot is completely bizarre but the way it culminates was very satisfying and kind of sweet. The friendship between Simone and Yvonne was another high point and I loved how the actresses play off each other.

Now if the reviews on letterboxd are anything to go by (and they seem to be all from George McKay stans) I had a very different reaction to this film than most but I thought it was delightful and I'm never going to say no to a modern musical.

Grade: B+

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "Jury's still out on that.." - Mandy (Mya Lewis)


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