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  Imperial Blue Interesting Drug
Year: 2019
Director: Dan Moss
Stars: Nicolas Fagerberg, Esther Tebandeke, Rehema Nanfuka, Ashish Verma, Paul Dewdney, Amanda Dahl, Wilson Egessa, Abby Mukiibi Nkaaga, Durassie Kiangangu, Ife Piankhi, Andrew Benon Kibuuka, Kebirungi Florence, Mirembe Jane, Keloy Kemigisha
Genre: Drama, Thriller, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Hugo Winter (Nicolas Fagerberg) is an American abroad. Based currently in London, he has gotten in over his head with drug dealers who he has offered to arrange deals for in India, close to the narcotics trade, but now he is there, things do not go as planned. The hashish is there to be handed over and smuggled, but his contact has something else for him that he supposed Hugo would be interested in, correctly: a blue powder harvested in a remote corner of Africa which has curious properties. Supposedly, if you take this drug it allows you visions of the future, and if this got out it would cause a sensation... but more importantly to this low level criminal, it could make him very rich indeed.

Science fiction is littered with made up drugs, mostly coming along in the wake of the hippy era where expanding your consciousness was the in thing and exploring the possibilities of various substances seemed to point the way to how the future was basically going to be transformed by this brave new world of hallucinogens and stimulants. What actually happened was a major problem with countless people ruining their lives with the likes of heroin and cocaine, shutting down their minds instead of opening them up, though cannabis began to be legalised in certain locations suggesting decriminalisation was a useful path to take. All of which brought us to Imperial Blue, which took that theme and applied it to a fantasy.

Whether that was useful was up for debate, but it appeared director Dan Moss was taking his concepts seriously, for what that was worth. The drug here became a metaphor for stuff like Western exploitation of Africa, the "be careful what you wish for" aspects of new technology, and the validity of allowing drug tourism for those who were wont to take the hippy trail, or whatever holiday of a lifetime equivalent was up for grabs. Obviously this was made before tourism and travel became a health liability, but funnily enough that did not make the film too out of date before it had been widely released, for its sincere worries about the so-called Third World being steamrollered by commerce, illegal or otherwise, and that affecting the futures of billions was still relevant even if there was a pandemic holding the world in its death grip.

And if this blue drug does allow you to view the future, then it could sabotage any hope of self-determination for the human race - it's an extremely dangerous situation and the story is aware of it. What it was not quite so aware of was how appealing the weaselly Hugo was meant to be, because frankly he really wasn't. He was the last person you would want to see holding this kind of power, and while there was a message here as well that the wrong people get these kinds of abilities and influences, it did not make for a very enjoyable time in his company, no matter how they tried to mellow his personality in the middle section. More amiable was Kisakye (Esther Tebandeke) who is the Ugandan villager who knows how to process the drug, which grows as blue flowers nearby, but the fact she had been forced into the position of making it available to the wrong folks was not a comforting watch either. It wasn't supposed to be, of course, but the whole production left you with mixed feelings at best, which presumably was its overall intention. Music by David Bryceland.

[The UK release date for digital viewing is Monday 18th January 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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