LFF 2021: ear for eye

Lashana Lynch stars in ear for eye, a damning account of racial injustice and the third feature from debbie tucker green

Film Review by Anahit Behrooz | 22 Oct 2021
  • ear for eye
Film title: ear for eye
Director: debbie tucker green
Starring: Lashana Lynch, Tosin Cole, Carmen Munroe, Danny Sapani
Release date: 16 Oct

ear for eye, debbie tucker green’s third directorial feature, is based on her play of the same name, and theatricality runs in its very bones. All the world is – quite literally – a stage, as characters pass through shadows into spotlights, sit collectively in an amphitheatre, face each other as the camera swirls in the blank space around them. ear for eye is a damning account of racial injustice and structural anti-Blackness, and its concern with how people are made visible and surveilled blisters in every frame. 

There are no real character or narrative arcs; instead, each line is a politically charged piece of a puzzle that together assemble a portrait of systemitised Black vulnerability. The action is split into three distinct parts, a series of conversations and statements that encompass everything from recent Black Lives Matter protests to Jim Crow laws, crafting a wrenching examination of changing modes of resistance and the complicity of the audience in watching a history of violence that spans far beyond the play.

Occasionally the vignettes feel fragmented but within ear for eye’s uncompromising portrait of a broken society lies a deeply emotional core, which well understands how the political will always be personal and raw. The first part in particular, depicting several conversations between elders and parents desperately reminding their children of the hostility of the world outside, is reminiscent of the heart-wrenching Ta-Nehisi Coates line: “Black people love their children with a kind of obsession,” he writes. “You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.” In every moment of tucker green’s film lies the same love, and the same anger.

ear for eye had its world premiere at London Film Festival and is streaming now in iPlayer