Julien Neaves – Editor
On March 28 the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival gave Caribbean viewers an isolation gift with #WatchaMovieOnUs: Online Screening Series – 14 films shown over 14 days, each for 24 hours, on its website. Now as you would see in the RMR About section, one of the goals of this site is to promote Caribbean film, or “Cariwood” as I call it.
So ttff has inspired me to do my own review series, 7 Days of Cariwood, which will be a mix of the Online Screening Series films and other Caribbean films. For part 6 of my review series we will be featuring ttff’s film today, the award-winning drama Play The Devil. And we will be keeping it spoiler free. Let’s do it.
I first saw this film years ago as part of a workshop and when one participant heard about the content she declined to watch it. In Trinidad and Tobago a film revolving around a gay relationship is a rarity and would be shunned by more conservative viewers. And there is one particularly intimate scene where some may be using the skip button. Just saying.
Play the Devil, written and directed by Maria Govan, follows gifted student Gregory White (British actor Petrice Jones from Netflix’s Locke and Key) who is living in poverty in the community of Paramin and becomes the object of affection, and later obsession, of wealthy businessman James Young (Gareth Jenkins).
Jones gives a powerhouse performance as he traverses a roller coaster of emotions encountered as he confronts his identity, sexuality and destiny. And he does a commendable job of a Trini accent though it does fluctuate at times. Jenkins also does well as the charming and manipulative James and he just exudes this very unsettling aura. The rest of the casts deliver solid performances including Penelope Spencer (Grace and Saleem), Nickolai Salcedo (Hero) and Akil Nicholas as Gregory’s religious grandmother, protective brother Fayne, and jovial best friend Devin respectively.
The plot of the film is well-paced and will keep viewers invested and intrigued throughout. Govan’s writing must be praised for avoiding cliches and her direction saluted for building tension in the more intense scenes. Kudos also to cinematographer James David Wall for masterfully capturing the expansive beauty of the Paramin mountains, the idyllic east coast with its ferocious waves, and the hypnotic dance of the blue devils, Carnival characters for which Paramin is famous. And the opening and closing scenes are simply art put to film. Call me devil’s advocate (you see what I did there) but Play the Devil is a pretty good movie.
Score: 8 out of 10
For part 5 of 7 Days of Cariwood and Jamaican sports crime drama Ghett’a Life you can click here.
Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. Also loves promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and is an aspiring author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Can also be found talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.