Shoot the Messenger

A well-meaning black Briton finds his identity squashed by identity politics in this bold, visually dynamic, and frequently startling BBC production from acclaimed director Ngozi Onwurah (Welcome to the Terrordome). Schoolteacher Joe Pasquale (a fiery David Oyelowo) wants to help black British youth, but after being wrongly scapegoated he instead turns his rising self-hatred toward what, exactly, is “wrong” with every other black person he meets. Talking directly to the camera like a modern-day Alfie (albeit one more obsessed with race than sex), he takes issue with underachieving high-school students and overbearing churchgoers, folks on the dole (too lazy) and activists on the radio (too political). A Swiftian satire as corrosive as it is comical (the film's controversial original title, F**k Black People, serves notice of its impolitic intent), Shoot the Messenger refuses to serve up the usual polite soliloquies, instead creating an intricate portrait of an identity defined not by society or culture, but on its own terms.

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