Image Credit: London Flair PR
Written and directed by Abraham Adeyemi in his directorial debut, No More Wings explores the relationship between childhood friends Isaac and Jude as they return to their favourite chicken shop as adults. The film jumps between their past and present selves, as they confront the differences in their adult livelihoods.
This short film, shot entirely within the single room of the shop -- Morley’s -- focuses entirely on the relationship between these two men. The film doesn’t ‘go anywhere’ per se; the two friends remain in this room, have a chat, and then leave. Yet you are captivated by their discussion. The heavy tension between the nostalgia for their youth and the undercurrent of resentment towards each other’s present selves warps together as one to entice us into watching, and listening, with our utmost attention.
Set in the wider world of South London, the place of Adeyemi’s own youth, No More Wings pinpoints the significance of gentrification in areas such as these. Isaac wants to move out of his ends which is seen almost as a betrayal by Jude, who can’t imagine leaving his hometown and instead wants to “glow up” with the area. Adeyemi navigates the conflicting ideals of gentrification through the two mens’ recognisably conflicting livelihoods.
Adeyemi encapsulates this microcosmic world of Morley’s and the surrounding area of their childhood. The camera never leaves the shop, only peering into it through exterior shots, while we are immersed in this interior and merely listening to their discussions of the world outside. From their spot at the counter they see Bianca, whom Jude fancies, and discuss their hopes for their own futures. When placed starkly alongside their adult selves, covering the same topics of girls and their current jobs, the confinements of this world become almost suffocating.
The stark contrasts between childhood and adulthood are typified by the costumes of the two characters. As children they are largely identical in their clothes, except for small signifiers such as Isaac’s longer, neater tie with his shirt buttons done up, opposed to Jude’s more relaxed appearance. As adults, Isaac is fully suited from work, whereas Jude is in a hoodie, laidback compared to his lifelong friend. They may still talk the same, but Isaac has cut off his braids and replaced them with an expensive watch. As children their uniforms give them unity; as adults, their physical appearances merely highlight their differences.
These newfound differences are accentuated by frequent moments where the two protagonists are framed together yet symmetrically divided, while the silence pervading these shots underscores the tension brought between them. As children, they are placed alongside each other, stood together at the shop’s counter, yet as adults they sit opposite one another faced with awkward silence as the subjects they have in common dwindle down to their shared childhood. The score is minimal throughout and for the most part music is played diegetically through Jude’s phone. The sombre nature created through the lack of a prominent score makes the tension between the two men even more palpable as they struggle to think of small talk.
Despite the frequent awkwardness between Isaac and Jude, the two men leave satisfied from their reunion. Their bond is still evidently unbreakable. Adeyemi exemplifies how the differences we cultivate as we grow up do not necessarily change who we are, and it cannot change where we have come from.
These attributes that encompass the men and create their world inside the compact setting of the chicken shop allow Adeyemi to delve into their relationship with honesty and intimacy. No More Wings brings together the conflicts of adulthood as friends grow up and move away, and the strength of the ties that still manage to bond them together. This short film is a powerful and realistic look into friendship, nostalgia, and divergence as one steps into adulthood.
Editor’s note: No More Wings will screen at Aesthetica Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival and the London Short Film Festival.