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Babymother Review

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A young black single mother struggles to make it in the reggae business.

★★★★★

Babymother begins as a reggae capitulation of Grease, crawls into Grange Hill type scenarios and ends with a dash of Brookside. Babymother (slang for young single mother) tells the story of sassy mum Anita (Lauren-Smith), vying for attention and success in the tough world of reggae music. Set in the urban malaise of Harlesden, North London, Anita bravely detaches herself from her infant's father, Don Byron (Johnson) and enlists friends Sharon and Yvette to form a group that wins the local battle of the bands.

TV director Henriques tackles subjects such as solo parents, tensions in the black community, feminism and friendship with huge swathes of colour and style but little depth. The problem with Babymother lies in the central character of Anita. Lauren-Smith delivers her dialogue as if reading from an autocue and with a story that rests on her narrow shoulders, it's a shame she delivers such a lightweight performance. Maybe the script, which delivers more unintentional giggles than inspiring social comment, could be to blame.

That said, Babymother is not all bad, and boasts a strong supporting cast including Don Warrington and Vas Blackwood. It is, however, burdened by an over reliance on badly dubbed and barely comprehensible "street talk" and an overbearing musical soundtrack. The whole film is painted onto a backdrop of music which provides the film with a breathless non-stop narrative. Written by acclaimed reggae artists Caroll Thompson and Beres Hammond, the score has more social insight and emotion than the script itself - but even so has little to say.

A well-intentioned but ultimately rather muddled affair, Babymother looks out of its depth at the pictures and will doubtless find a much more comfortable home when shown on the small screen.

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