Better Mus Come Reviews
The film is more inclined ideologically to take the position of the Latino-type leader who roots for a Castroesque solution to the plight of the island's black population, over and above the position of the black leader, who is a sort of CIA pig more convinced of his opposition to communism than is he is interested in the broader advancement of his people's history-in-the-making. Both leaders are convincing representations of the local manifestation of the politics they stand for.
Snapshots are seen being taken of gang members on podiums, with the suggestion that these photographs contribute to dossiers compiled by covert operatives on either side. Much of the film is shot through with this wider sense of geopolitical arsenic and drama, and it is this geopolitical aspect that raises the topic of the film beyond the mere tedium of another testosterone histrionic.
Construction and the construction industry constitute the axis around which the thematic of corruption is woven, whilst all the boys inhabit rusty townships where women try to keep the sheets clean. The sets are excellent and schematic; the view of Jamaica one sees is one of rubble, iron reinforcements to concrete under construction, and barely tarmacked roads weaving through degraded shantytown hovels.
The filmmaker is a Latino-type Caribbean (!), and his depiction of women suffers from a very male schism: the ideal carer versus the erotic flirt. The former escapes from the shanty town as mother to the lead's son in the boot of a car; the lead's paramour is raped and murdered by a runt with half his leg missing. At this point our concerns waver; are we to see this animal as a subject for the better future dreamed of by the Castroesque political leader - a limit point in the story told; or are we to see the young woman's horrific death as arising out of a ditsy fairyness that finds its fatal plot justification in the margin of treachery between her and the more circumspect and spiritual young mother? No-one would wish on anyone the destinies met by this lithe bodied beauty and this one legged runt, in the first case for the safeguarding of a certain aristocratic wilfulness in young women, in the second for the safeguarding of the same again but from the negative perspective of those who would assault it.
The woman who dies is 'from the other side' of the political divide - the anti-Castro wing. Her haughty vociferation of values half way through the film contrasts strongly with the political pigs who represent that wing at the hustings and in commerce. The young woman's lover, the male lead, is assassinated by authoritarians who are nuanced by their will to see everything straight and ship shape, with all the echoes of right-wing military regimes that this entails. Neither this government-within-government nor the police force really comes off badly as far as character representation is concerned, and we would be hard-pressed in the analysis provided by this film to read the military chief as anything other than right-wing.
The male lead, shot crossing a barren-banked estuary, descends through the water in a quasi-triumphant swim towards the light of a future death, donning swirling iconic rasta locks as he does so. A comment on Rastafarianism gone mad, dreads as the self-enveloping signature of a rebel with nothing but an empty invention - to substitute the dual strengths of a history and tradition of one's own? Quite likely, since his final moments contrast heavily with the authentic Rasta represented in the film, whose role as educator of children and whose purity of lifestyle have all the hallmarks of a distilled fledgling religion. The film actually seems to be saying this: but this Rasta is shot in the face at point blank range. He appears to be one of only two characters in the film capable of showing agency when it comes to protecting children and the weaker sex.
The hero is given a Shelley-esque end: lying shot and lapped by water on the estuary shore, in an ever-widening spill of swirling blood.