Menhaj Huda’s last feature film, Kidulthood, managed to become something of a cult classic here in the UK. It was the story of poor urban youths in London, and was hailed as an accurate depiction of the urban alienation experienced by kids in some of London’s most deprived areas. It was a low-budget film with unintentionally comical acting and script, but was respected for giving a relatively honest insight into urban youth culture.
Everywhere and Nowhere switches its focus to the fairly familiar topic of British-Asian identity. It tells the story of Ash (James Floyd), a British-Asian teenager who’s torn between appeasing his traditional Asian family on the one hand, and pursuing his dreams of becoming a DJ on the other. Along the way, we get insights into the lives of his friends, all of whom are equally mixed and philosophical about their hybrid identities.
If you’re familiar with post-colonial cinema, then it becomes clear early on in the plot how this film will play out. Much of it centres around the relationship between Ash and his overbearing bug-eyed father, who is concerned that his children are being tainted by white British culture and losing touch with their heritage. Of course, the hypocrisy of his stance eventually surfaces, as his own life too contains its infidelities. Ash’s friends are all archetypes of a certain British-Asian crisis; from his smooth brother who sleeps with English women only to compare them unfavourably to Asian women, to his cousin who is dangerously drawn towards Islamic fundamentalism.
Aside from some shambolic acting and a painfully unfunny scene in which a dippy blonde girl tries to win back Ash’s brother’s heart by learning how to be an Asian woman, this is a very watchable film. There are too many pseudo-philosophical dialogues about what a struggle life is, which seems ironic given that most of the main characters go to exclusive parties and drive around in BMWs. Nevertheless, much of the film’s dialogue is sharp and naturalistic, with some of the most poignant moments occurring when Ash is cruising around London and casually bantering with his friends about women and joking around about their divided identity. Also keep an eye out for The Inbetweeners’ James Buckley, whose role in the film is regrettably little more than a cameo, but whose endearingly crude screen presence always brings a smile to my face.
Everywhere and Nowhere is an enjoyable fast-paced film, supplemented by a London-based grime and bassline soundtrack. Its problem is that the theme of British-Asian identity has been covered better in classics such as East is East and My Beautiful Laundrette. While it brushes past more contemporary issues, such as fundamentalism and the controversial anti-terror legislation, the ‘struggle’ that all the characters talk about is virtually invisible. Ash’s father is despotic and archaic, but also has relatively little authority over his son. With the harshness and disloyalty that his family show to him, there just isn’t that much incentive for Ash not to run away from it all and pursue his dream, which [SPOILER ALERT] he duly does in one of the most abrupt and rushed endings ever seen in a film.