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Southend’s battle-rap scene comes to the big screen, in this sharp-tongued drama starring Connor Swindells as a troubled teenager trying to make rhyme pay.

Dir Ed Lilly
Prod Bennett McGhee
Scr Daniel Hayes, Ed Lilly
With Connor Swindells, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Ruth Sheen
UK Distribution Altitude Film Distribution / Lorton Entertainment

Ed Lilly’s feature debut stars Connor Swindells as Adam, an angst-ridden youth who has been shunted around the care system since early childhood, but is finally assigned by case worker Terry (Nicholas Pinnock) to a foster home in Southend, where his biological mother lives. After a chance encounter in an arcade, Adam is drawn into the seaside resort’s underground hip-hop scene by promoter Makayla (Fola Evans-Akingbola). She encourages him to develop his speedy word skills to take on the town’s reigning battle rap champions, played by Joivan Wade and real-life MC Shotty Horroh. Can this sharp-tongued protagonist put his rage to good use? Combining rhyme-laden set pieces with downbeat drama, Vs. offers a very British take on the 8 Mile template.

Manish Agarwal

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