Skins is for wimps. Adulthood is for real...
When Kidulthood booted down British cinema doors in ‘06, it was railed at as symptomatic of the doom-and-gloom downfall of British civilisation. That was down to its raw depiction of West London’s rowdy, hazardous yoof culture, made up of punch-drunk hoodies and mouthy, shagging teens with ‘tude issues.
Which is why Noel Clarke decided to write, direct and star in the follow-up. In his eyes, all the fusty critics had missed the point (although David Cameron leapt to Kidulthood’s defence). “They went insane, and they’ll probably go insane again with this. The Daily Mail was talking nonsense, as usual...”
Adulthood picks up with most of the same jaded urban youth six-and-a-half years after Kidulthood’s curtain-drop, which left Trife (Aml Ameen) dead and Sam (Clarke) being carted away by the cops. The 32-year-old multi-tasker explains his decision to telescope time (“I’ve cheated it so the events in Kidulthood happen in 2002”) because he wanted to be in it, reckoning that Sam’s served six years of a 10-year manslaughter sentence (which is shown in flashback). “Part of me was like, ‘Why did I write a film where I wasn’t the main part? Acting’s all I’ve been wanting to do,’” he says, adding with a wry chuckle, “I don’t think I’ve ever got an acting job from being the guy in Dr Who.”
When Sam heads back to Ladbroke Grove’s mean streets, he encounters Jay (Adam Deacon), who wants revenge, Moony (Femi Oyeniran), who’s studying at uni, and new face on the block Danny Dyer. Not returning is Jaime Winstone’s deceitful Becky. “But everybody we wanted back came back,” says Clarke, who didn’t plan to direct but grabbed the reins when Kidulthood director Menhaj Huda was tied down with a telly series. “I wasn’t sure at first. It’s a big thing to undertake, especially when you’re in it. And people are always going to criticise and say, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’ I’m expecting that, obviously...”