The fifth and final installment in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, Education is about Kingsley Smith, a 12-year-old, with a passion for astronauts and outer space. After being pulled out of class for being disruptive, he discovers he’s being transferred to a “special School.”
Co-written by McQueen and Alastair Siddons, they also worked on Mangrove and Alex Wheatle, the script hits hard for anyone whose faced prejudice, racial or not, within the school system. Kingsley does his best, but his best isn’t up to his teacher’s standards, so he’s put down and not given the exact help he’s needed.
Kenyah Sandy plays Kingsley, the entire film rests upon his shoulders, and he pulls it off like it was nothing. Sandy’s performance helps to empathize even more with Kingsley. Sharlene Whyte plays Agnes, Kingsley’s mother, she’s also great as the caring but stubborn parent, who doesn’t see the obvious but just wants what’s best for her child.
Later, it’s revealed that the school isn’t special at all, and just an excuse to prevent Black children from getting the education they deserve, practicing borderline segregation. A group of West Indian women band together to put a stop to this and get those children out of that school. They suggest that Agnes write a letter to the current Secretary of Education, Margret Thatcher, and if you know anything about her, you know that nothing will get done, at all.
But the film doesn’t end on a sour note like that, instead the film ends with Kingsley reading a book to his family. He’s struggling through some words, but his family is amazed at the growth and strength Kingsley has shown.
It’s a bittersweet ending to Small Axe, protesting a message of helping yourself instead of relying on useless Governments to do it for you. (4/5)
Overall, I really enjoyed McQueen’s Small Axe, even the, relatively, worst film in the bunch is still a good movie. There’s not only a consistency in message and theme, but also in quality and creativity. I highly recommend watching all of them (and *cough* reading my reviews of them *cough*).