‘Small Ax: Lovers Rock’ – Saturday Night Fever

Outstanding image

‘Lovers Rock’ is the second installment of ‘Small Ax’, the anthology written and directed by Steve McQueen that is inspired directly or indirectly by real events carried out by the black community of the city of London between the years 1962 and 1989. Five installments of variable duration that Movistar + opens in our country every Thursday since last January 7, 2021, at the rate of one per week being ‘The Mangrove‘,’ Red, white and blue ‘,’ Alex Wheatle ‘and’ Education ‘the titles of his other four installments.

‘Lovers Rock’ tells a fictional love story between two young people who meet at a party in 1980. ‘Lovers Rock’ is an ode to the genre of romantic “reggae”, the so-called “lovers rock”, which only sounded in the houses where black youth organized their parties when they weren’t welcome in segregated discos and nightclubs.

His synopsis is also very clear, and Steve McQueen’s intentions are equally clear: White and bottled, black and dancing. If ‘El Mangrove’ was a cry of protest, ‘Lovers Rock’ is one of joy. Two faces of the same reality that it is not necessary to dress in violence, it is enough to find the melody that best accompanies the occasion.

And ‘Lovers Rock’ is well stocked in that sense and has a soundtrack, incessant and pounding of authentic luxury. Said love story is the fine thread on which a party plays that, in reality, only needs said love story as an alibi. It is enough and it takes care of itself, without the need for anyone to speak but the music.

The music, the party, and nobody or anything else. There we could have been more than the hour, if it comes, that McQueen dedicates to being at the true heart of a story where love is vindicated with a mere final sigh. When an image is worth a thousand words, when that image is capable of capturing and retaining the soul of a moment.

From “that” moment in time that refers to the (great) film by Trey Edward Shults. The alleged love story presented by ‘Lovers Rock’ seems too incipient to be considered a story in itself. No more than an excuse, correct and valid but barely developed to be more than a sigh.

And is that ‘Lovers Rock’ barely lasts 70 minutes, leaving us the feeling that as a story proper, it lacks entity. Now, this story can be considered a kind of Macguffin on which to structure an authentic party of which, as in Gaspar No’s ‘Climax’, we are allowed to become one more.

In fact, the aforementioned ‘Climax’ and ‘Lovers Rock’ come to share a virtually similar result, each in its own way and where both stand out in the purely visceral moments where the music takes the lead in an irresistible way. From then on, be it white, black or French, almost everything else is like street noise.

By Juan Pairet Iglesias