Available now on Amazon Prime, “Guava Island”, the latest Childish Gambino project, is a joyous, beautiful, bittersweet gem of a movie, balancing a carefree joie de vivre with a pointed, if slightly heavy-handed, critique of the ultimately self-destructive nature of capitalism thrown in for good measure.
Guava Island is a paradise but those who live there have no time to enjoy it because they’re all wage slaves to local businessman Red Cargo (Nonso Anozie), who requires them to work every single day. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull soul so free-spirited musician Deni Maroon (Donald Glover) sets out to organise a music festival, much to the chagrin of Cargo who doesn’t want the production of Guava Island’s famous blue silk to be interrupted by people taking a day off to sleep off the festival revelries. But Deni’s positivity and good-natured anarchism won’t let him be cowed by threats or bribery and so the stage is set for a showdown between the people and The Man.
Gilded by the music of Childish Gambino, there’s a breezily infectious charm to “Guava Island” and its fantasy island setting, even as it gradually pulls back the curtain of this picture postcard paradise to show the indentured lives of those who live behind the picturesque façade. Although its message isn’t particularly subtle, there’s an artfulness to the film that keeps things light and, ultimately, celebratory. Director Hiro Murai and cinematographer Christian Sprenger shoot the film in stunning, sun-drenched opulence and the script, from Stephen Glover, lets the easy natural charisma and chemistry of his brother Donald and Rihanna shine through, with Letitia Dean delighting in a supporting role.
A film about art and life and freedom, celebrating all three, “Guava Island” is a must-see destination spot this April.