Wah Do Dem Movie Review
Slacker musician Max (Bones) is looking forward to a freebie Caribbean cruise with his girlfriend Willow (Jones), but she breaks up with him just before they're due to leave. Max's friends insist that he goes anyway, although all of them are too busy to travel with him. Bored on his own, he jumps ship when he gets to Jamaica. But this turns into a bigger challenge than expected when he's robbed of everything but his swim-trunks and has to traverse the island on foot to find the American Embassy.
The title is Jamaican patois for "what they do", and the filmmakers' relaxed, documentary-style approach disguises the skilful directing and editing. And much of the dialog feels realistically off the cuff, with awkward pauses and throwaway lines that reveal the jagged attitudes even of smaller one-scene characters. The sequence on the ship is like a short film all its own, with tiny dramas and hilarious encounters with random passengers. And the journey across Jamaica is packed with offbeat interaction with the locals, including a musical rave and impromptu football match.
Through it all, Bones creates a terrifically likeable character. Even though he mopes through most of the film, he's still charming and mischievous (Twilight filmmakers take note), as well as open to the experiences that come his way. We sympathise when he does something stupid and really feel his loneliness as he travels on his own. And the people he meets on his trip are funny and friendly, and also a little exciting as they're a break from his normal routine.
As it progresses, the film's gently loping pace and endearing characters thoroughly win us over. And it's all underscored with some terrific music. This isn't really a coming-of-age film, as Max doesn't learn any big lessons. But the lack of moralising makes it all the more refreshing. Essentially it's just an eye-opening series of encounters that broaden this young guy's worldview.
And ours too, perhaps.