Guava Island Review: A Fun Singalong With A Serious Side and Some Serious Starpower

Guava Island : A Fun Singalong With Some Serious Starpower.
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
Dropping a song, album or music video unexpectedly is a practice that has risen in popularity over the last five years or so, with some of the biggest superstars on the planet getting in on it. Here we have a surprise movie. Filmed under a veil of secrecy, Guava Island is a tropical thriller-come-musical starring Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino, who announced the movie following his Thursday headline set at spring music festival Coachella.

With a runtime of 55 minutes, Guava Island is an Amazon Original and streams on their Prime Video service.

It’s a singalong love story, slap-bang in the middle of a labour conflict. Glover plays Deni Maroon, a ubiquitous, inspirational and positive inhabitant of the tropical island. Joining him is Rihanna, who plays his love interest Kofi Novia. Rounding out the main cast is Nonso Anozie of Game of Thrones fame, who plays the Capitalist tyrant Red Cargo, and British-Guyanese actress Letitia Wright, who plays Yara Love.

We are introduced to the history of the island by Kofi in a rather lovely animated sequence.

She explains that the Gods created a tropical paradise where rare silks were created by clay worms. Seeing an opportunity to cash in and seize control, the Red family throw their considerable weight around, making the island and its lucrative silk industry theirs. As a result, the inhabitants of the island, who speak English and Spanish, are repressed and must work seven-day weeks. They live in a beautiful, idyllic part of the world but have no time to truly experience and enjoy it. Deni, a man of many jobs and many friends, is a dreamer and visionary and wants to change this, even if it’s for one night only. So he plans an all-night music festival on a Saturday where everyone can be present and free.

This doesn’t go down well with Red Cargo, as it would mean no work would be carried out the following Sunday by his many employees. He tries to tempt Deni into cancelling the ambitious event by offering him $10,000. If Deni refuses, there may be consequences, not just for him, but for the entire island. Will love and music conquer all? Well, what do you think? πŸ˜‰

Glover is the star of the show, and as such, his music (or rather, his Childish Gambino alter ego’s) is featured heavily.

In contrast, Rihanna doesn’t sing a note. Instead, she is the realist to Glover’s dreamer persona. She struggles with a decision throughout – how and when to tell her man that she’s carrying a baby. While perhaps not at the level of, say, Cooper and Gaga, their chemistry is undoubtedly there and is transmitted well to the audience. With Glover’s star not being as bright as his Barbadian co-star’s, this bite-sized offering puts him and his music front and centre. In fact, it could be said that this is somewhat of an extended music video.

The overall feel is relaxed and casual. In fact, island residents don’t even use a smartphone, instead opting to sing along to the radio. There is a serious side to proceedings, though. Glover has stated that the movie’s main influences were 1984’s Purple Rain and 2002’s City of God. The script was written by his brother, Stephen. The cinematography is beautiful, with some breathtaking shots of Cuba, where it was filmed. This is an enjoyable 55 minutes that will have you planning a tropical holiday, tapping your foot, singing along and maybe even seeking out more Childish Gambino music. Everyone’s happy.