Genre: Psychological Drama
Year Released: 2014
Distributor: Film Movement
Running Time: 105 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 17+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: A Hundred Streets, The Family that Preys, Like Water for Chocolate, To Save a Life, Vera Drake
-Jerome is played by Kai Francis Lewis who’s appeared in The Dry Fields, an episode of Doctors, and County Lines.
-Second Coming is the directorial film debut of playwright Debbie Tucker Green. She has written plays such as Two Women, Born Bad, and Ear for Eye. Green is also the fourth Black British woman to direct a film in the UK and for it to have national distribution there. The only others besides her are Ngozi Onwurah (Coffee Colored Children, And Still I Rise), Amma Asante (A Way of Life, Belle), and Destiny Ekaragha (Gone Too Far!, Danny and the Human Zoo).
It feels strange reviewing indie movies that feature big names attached to them. There are times where I seriously wonder if it’s an early film in their career before they start becoming in demand for the mainstream movie system. It certainly was the case with Wilby Wonderful which starred a then-unknown Ellen Page and Sandra Oh not long before she would be in Gray’s Anatomy. That’s not the case for this British film starring the very popular Idris Elba. It came out 2014 which would be a year after Pacific Rim was made and two years prior to The Jungle Book remake (side note: Elba is the fourth person in a movie I reviewed who played a Disney villain if you count live action remakes and Kingdom Hearts [see the English dub of My Life as a Zucchini]), so the fact that he got to be in a small film is certainly worth noting here. It’s certainly a surprise, but I don’t let star power affect my opinions (My Dog Tulip? I rest my case).
We’ll see how this film stacks up with the Iridium Eye treatment.
Second Coming takes place in London with a Black British family. There’s Mark, who is a loving father even when he deals with his less-than-ideal job working in civil maintenance. There’s his son Jerome AKA JJ who’s often bored with school, but is drawing to bird watching and wanting to help those animals if they’re injured. Lastly, there’s Jacqueline AKA Jackie/Jax, who’s the Jamaican-British wife and mother of the household. She works as a welfare receptionist as she deals with unruly recipients, but something major is happening in her life: She’s pregnant. Jackie is unsure about this since she and Mark haven’t been intimate in several months and she has these bizarre dreams where it’s raining inside their house whenever she’s in the bathroom. Her friend and co-worker (also coincidentally Jerome’s godmother) Bernie confronts her on this while also giving Jackie some tough love on the situation. How does Jackie tell the rest of the family that another child is on the way without a negative fallout?
I wasn’t expecting anything like this, but it was a good thing. I thought it would be a straightforward drama and nothing with psychological elements. However, that aspect only comes up a few times and the supernatural elements are quite subtle which was a nice touch. There were so many twists as it came to Jackie’s dreams and how she deals with her situation which becomes more apparent the more she shows. I also liked some of the surprises with how other people figure it out even before her stomach grows as the months go by. It was great to see a normal Black family in general. Yes, there is drama that stems from Jackie’s pregnancy, but I liked how it didn’t lead to a “Black men ain’t spit” narrative like so many Tyler Perry or Lifetime movies. Mark has his own issues that are irrelevant to the pregnancy, but he proves to be a husband and father who cares for his family. I do have to give Idris Elba props for portraying that character. His monologue he gives to Jackie when he figures out about her pregnancy was the most intense thing I’ve ever seen him do. This was a breath of fresh air with all the man-blaming and mansplaining going on in media, yet it never goes into MGTOW/MRA fodder territory. The production looked great as everything was crisp. The natural lighting was great especially with the outdoor scenes with Jerome trying to take care of the bird. The music was a nice mix of ambient, post-rock, soul, reggae, grime, and dub mixed throughout seamlessly. A major prop that this movie gets is that Second Coming beats the Deggans Test with flying colors. Sure, the concept of racism is mentioned in passing in less than a minute of film time, but the concept of the movie isn’t about the main character’s ethnicity which is a huge plus.
Second Coming isn’t a savior of a movie though. While Jackie is portrayed as a flawed character, there are times where those flaws becoming way too much for a character like that, or rather what any mother of a sound mind would do. I appreciated how Bernie and Mark call her out on what she does, but some of those sins are extremely disturbing and the fridge horror gets very strong even with the ending. There were plot holes such as the visions she has or Jerome’s rushed character development/character change that reverts back to normal without much explanation which wasn’t great writing even if there was some logic as to why he temporarily changes his personality. I also wished Bernie had more of an impact in the final act besides her catching Jackie with a cigarette in the bathroom.
This British film did have twists and turns that I wasn’t sure where it would go, but it ended up being better than I expected. It’s far too easy to make a film like Second Coming to be more problematic, but the landing did hold. The acting was great from all the characters. The scenery and video work was certainly on-par. I do wish some of the plot elements would be more cohesive and handled better, but the ending more than makes up for that. Second Coming is a film that certainly allayed my fears since more popular films would’ve gone with more of an anti-man and/or anti-Black approach.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you like family dramas.
Subtract 1-2 points if you like your movies to make perfect sense.
-Passes the Deggans Test
-Jackie’s actions get way too disturbing during her pregnancy
-Jerome’s character development suffers in the third act
-Plot holes and dropped plot elements
Final Score: 8/10 points
Content Warning: Second Coming would be best for older audiences only. The language gets incredibly strong especially during the scenes with Bernie and Jackie arguing and with Mark having that epic rant against Jackie to the point where she’s silent. Jackie smokes during her pregnancy which is quite unsettling and Bernie calls her out on it. There’s a scene of self-mutilation which isn’t seen, but one can hear blood dripping and a metal object dropping while the camera pans to the person’s face.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Second Coming is property of Debbie Tucker Green and Film Movement. The DVD box set picture is from Barnes & Noble and is property of Film Movement.