UR­BAN HYMN

Empire (UK) - - ON SCREEN - dp

A SOGGILY SEN­TI­MEN­TAL script cyn­i­cally ex­ploits the prob­lems fac­ing a cou­ple of black care kids in Michael Ca­ton-jones’ first fea­ture in a decade. Ini­tially seen loot­ing in Lon­don dur­ing the 2011 ri­ots, teenage or­phans Jamie (Wright) and Leanne (Laugh­land) seem to be slip­ping through the cracks when book­ish so­cial worker Kate (Hen­der­son) of­fers Jamie a brighter future through mu­sic. Each sit­u­a­tion feels for­mu­laic as Leanne and Kate fight for Jamie’s soul, while ev­ery char­ac­ter teeters on stereo­type. The harder the leads try to make this ma­nip­u­la­tive melo­drama seem so­ciopo­lit­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant, the more screen­writer Nick Moor­croft does a pa­tro­n­is­ing dis­ser­vice to the cause he is striv­ing to es­pouse.

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