Nigerian born Hollywood actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s directorial debut is a visceral look into the psyche of a misled teen who will do anything to be anyone but himself.
Farming is based on the real-life story of the actor and director, Agbaje, who has been a part of many Hollywood pictures and whose first time behind and in front of the camera leads to nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece.
The movie is about Enitan, a Nigerian boy entrusted into the care of a British family by his parents. It is set in a period when such was prevalent, and in this case, Enitan’s parents (played by the director and Nollywood’s own Genevieve Nnaji) make the choice so they can focus on their studies.
Enitan is a shy and introverted lad who finds himself in a world that is both unpleasant and hateful. As he matures into a teenager, he gets his first taste of racist abuse and is subsequently drawn into a life of never-ending crime, not caring about how his actions affect those who care for him.
The path the young protagonist takes leads him to the darkest recesses of self-hatred and extreme violence that threaten to destroy him and everyone who means anything to him. He is aware of this but he doesn’t care as he plunges deeper into his doom; he just wants to be anything but black and will perform even the most heinous act to belong to a society that loathes him.
It is hard to believe that this is the first time that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is directing as there is nothing to give him away here. One thing is for sure; this is not a movie for the faint of heart. It is brutal, it is bloody, it is riveting, it is shocking, and it is reality!
The acting is just superb from everyone. And I mean every damn person just contributes to this monumental achievement. But towering above them all is the actor who plays the teenage Enitan, Damson Idris. I honestly don’t know how he was able to give such a sincere, moving and earnest performance. You will love him, hate him, care for him and curse him! The actor is just that good! He embodies the character with every breath, speech, and movement. His inner and outer struggles all show in his expressions and one begins to wonder if it’s acting on display or real life.
Notable Hollywood actress Kate Beckinsale plays Enitan’s foster mother convincingly and effortlessly and this doesn’t come as a surprise as she has always exuded talent. Genevieve Nnaji (I wish she got more screen time) also holds her own, playing the role of the emotional mother of the troubled teen. Kudos to all the actors for their contribution and once again, especially to Damson Idris (you deserve a standing ovation, pal).
And last but not the least, special recognition must go to actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, in a highly significant role of the school teacher who holds fast to her belief that no matter how bad someone is, there’s always room for redemption. She is the movie’s angel of light against the darkness cast by the shadow of the young hero and her portrayal brings about the movie’s most heartwarming and motivational moments.
Farming is a story better seen than told. It will rock you to your core and may leave you tearful by the time the credits start rolling. It is an award-deserving production that transcends moviemaking. Thank you, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, for sharing your story!