Clanging and cantankerous, “God Loves the Fighter” is a sight for sore eyes, though it also might make them sorer. The first feature-length film from writer/director Damian Marcano, it is a dance hall reggae opera pulsing with the rhythms of Port-au-Spain’s gritty Laventville neighborhood, and it is ablaze with a never-ending explosion of color in every sense of that word. Narrated by Lou Lyons as street person King Curtis, a sort of rap-poet Greek chorus who exposes the real dirt behind local news headlines, it focuses on the story of Charlie (The Freetown Collective’s Muhammad Muwakil), a young guy pulled down by the criminal elements that surround him.
Though at times it feels more like a feature-length music video than anything since Baz Luhrmann’s “Gatsby,” this is a wholly original endeavor – and not only because, as a Trinidadian gangster movie, it serves up a much-needed corrective to the excuses for celeb vacations that are Hollywood films set in the Caribbean. Shot during the 2011 state of emergency to fight crime that was declared by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, “God Loves the Fighter” whirls in a dust cloud of past and present, fantasy and nightmare, and prostitution, church confessionals, and cocaine. Relentless and sweaty, scenes blur into each other with the beautiful intensity of a heat map – all sea greens, bold reds, and black skin that is properly lit (which is still a shameful rarity). Eventually, though, a too-pat tale emerges from the clamor. In fact, as presented by Curtis, the film actually booms its messages at us in a big basso profundo; even its subtitles bellow in neon yellow. Continue Reading →