; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: VIFF: Beeba Boys

Monday, 28 September 2015

VIFF: Beeba Boys

(reviewed by Meaghan Smith)

A Bloody Fast Paced Exploration of Second Generation Canadian Gang Life

The director only pointed out one thing in her opening speech: the reason she focused solely on Punjabi gang life is because she is Punjabi and therefore has an insider knowledge of the culture behind the real life gang members on whom she based her film. I thought that statement was redundant but after reading a few reviews I realize that I was in the minority in assuming that a director who is branching out into action films would want to hold onto some insider knowledge to help understand the motivation of her characters instead of giving a wider portrayal of all second and third generation immigrant gang life.

The film itself was very quick paced and surprisingly funny, although I found the audience laughed at moments that I’m pretty sure were meant to be serious, but I’ve found that with most audiences (as Alan has pointed out in his Peggy Guggenheim review – beat his wife with a baseball bat because she was annoying and then committed suicide is not a hilarious joke but a terrifying tale). Humour is very central to the film as Beeba Boys translates to "Good Boys" which is obviously very far from the truth. 

The acting was phenomenal and the Beeba Boys had such amazing chemistry together. I was worried at first that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with who is who in the gang from the quick introductions of roles at the beginning but the characters were so well done and diverse that it was easy to tell which role each member played in every scene. My favourite character in the film was Manny who is always telling overly long jokes to lighten the mood of the grim reality that the boys live, and his quick cutting remarks really made me giggle throughout the film. I always love the character who is allowed to mess with the toughest guy in the room, because that is the bravest guy in the room!

One of the most obvious strengths, and embarrassingly one of the reasons I wanted desperately to see the film, is the impeccable style of the Beeba Boys. I used to joke with my friends that Inception was a two-and-a-half-hour long suit porn, but Beeba Boys takes that to a whole new level. Costume design in this film was impeccable! The boys were always perfectly attired and the mix of Indian and cutting edge Western fashion gave the Beeba Boys a distinct and elegant look.

The film is understandably quite bloody and gruesome. Gang life has been portrayed many times in film so most people know what to expect, but I was shocked at the extent of the bloodiness and the unrelenting violence. No one in the film was safe. By the end I was starting to get oversaturated with violence when the final statement appeared (which I can’t quote because I am dumb and didn’t write it down quickly enough so I shall paraphrase): We did not make this gratuitous violence up. There have been more than 170 gang related deaths in BC in the past ten years. The extent of gang related death and mayhem in BC astounded me. The movie has a strong “gang life = death” moral at the centre, but the film itself is highly enjoyable around it.

I would recommend this film for action junkies, people who wonder about gang life, and those who enjoy well-crafted film and don’t mind a little bloodshed. 

Beeba Boys is on again on September 29th at 3pm at the Centre for Performing Arts. 

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