A Way Of Life review

It's grim out west. Amma Asante's debut movie, an unblinking examination of race hatred in a small Welsh town, opens with a man being kicked to death by a teen gang, then flashes back to dissect the killers' lives in horrifying detail.

The pick of the bunch is Leigh-Anne (volcanic newcomer Stephanie James), a truculent single mother who cares about nothing but her baby. She lies, steals and, in one memorably bleak scene, pimps out a younger girl to the local pervert. The full focus of her rage is borne by Turkish neighbour Hassan (Oliver Haden), whom she suspects of squealing to social services about her sick child.

Asante's script makes explicit the connections between poverty and prejudice without letting her protagonists off the hook. (Leigh-Anne's bigotry is enough to make your skin crawl.) But the strong performances and vital theme aren't quite enough to stop the sledgehammer social commentary eventually becoming wearing.

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