The Strays 2023

The Strays is a film that explores social horror amongst Britain's affluent. Nathaniel Martello White's captivating screenplay delves into the symbolic portrayal of women as the source of humanity's creation, akin to the land that brought forth two races - black and white. The narrative also highlights the systematic advantages granted to white individuals, granting them dominance over wealth, power, and influence.

The Strays: A Melodramatic Exploration of Identity and Self-Surrender in Nathaniel Martello White's Film.

It is practically impossible to impersonate a completely different character and conceal one's identity, religion, color, and roots, even though some individuals do not hesitate to do so in the presence of others, or to pursue what they believe is a comfortable life.

When entire groups of people deny their identities, they may lose their way into the future. This denial leads to the transformation of human beings, both individuals and groups, into mere mutants with the characteristics of a contrived and overwhelming culture, often resulting in a melodramatic ending.

Africans residing in the white world (Europe or America) have long been aware of this equation through countless experiences, yet some still fall into the pit of so-called "self-hatred" and deny their obvious identities.

The Strays, a film currently streaming on Netflix, is presented by Nathaniel Martello White, a British actor, writer, and director who showcases one of his experiences of being crushed in front of others during his first foray into writing and directing.

Perhaps the personal experience of the African-English director is the primary source of inspiration that imbues this melodramatic film with brutal yet warm energy. The movie walks a tightrope between violence on one hand and coming close to scratching the sanctity of motherhood on the other. However, the main theme is the internal defeat that leads to self-surrender in favor of others.

The Strays revolves around Cheryl (Ashley Madikwe), also known as "Nevi," who lives a privileged life with her husband Ian (Justin Salinger) and her teenage children Sebastian and Mary (Samuel Small and Maria Almeida) in a strange British suburb. Nevi is the deputy principal of a luxury private school, but her past is revealed by two unknown characters (Pukki Bakray and Gordon Merry).

Class Struggles and Personal Identity in a British Film:

The Strays, which originates from Britain, is a promise of rebalancing. The director draws on his own experience as an African-British and does not hide his desire to break through the walls of rich white neighborhoods and expose their contradictions.

The "Strays" has four time units, beginning with an introductory scene. Despite the relatively large time difference between the beginning and end of the work, the film's narrative is smooth and fluid thanks to the wonderful rhythm and sound tape. A subtle and fun soundtrack emerged at the same time.

The film opens with a pre-screening scene in the so-called "Avan Tatar". The makers portray the misery of Cheryl's mother, her constant complaints of deprivation, her aspiration for money, and a more spacious life. She escapes from her home, leaving her two young children without a caregiver.

The director emotionally and temporally separates the poor old version of the character "Cheryl" from the same character with a new name, "Nevi", after she achieved her dreams of wealth and belonging to a completely different class. She speaks in the dialect of the upper class in society.

Director Nathaniel Martello highlights the class markers from the first shot of the work, depicting a public housing building. The camera is placed at the bottom, making the building, despite the small size of its constituent units, appear to be a giant that dominates and stifles those who reside in it.

In contrast, the director portrays the rich neighborhood to which Cheryl moved as Nevi. The wide streets and gardens of houses and the spread of green on the roadsides and in the entrances of houses are shown through the car window.

Martello portrays the suffocation suffered by the inhabitants of modest popular buildings compared to the barah in which the rich live. However, the most important question is whether what the creator of the work portrayed serves as a justification for crushing in front of the rich and abandoning children, leaving them in the wind.

Martello's interest in suggestive and refined visual language is evident in the details that convey meaning in the performances of the actors, particularly the heroine Ashley Madikwe.

Ashley unites with her role incredibly in most scenes, although she loses emotions in some aspects of the character, especially the scene of her discussion with her son and daughter from the first marriage from which she escaped. The director's touches are clear with her distinctive movement throughout the film. The wig always raises a kind of itching in her head, so her hand extends under the wig that hides her real African hair.

The mother who ran away from her two children denies her identity and her two children and takes a violent stance against the blacks in the school where she works. The white school principal tries to keep up with her in her attempts to expel blacks from the school, but in a way that does not lead to accusing the administration of racial discrimination. One of her children confesses to his father, saying, "My mother completely denies that she is not white."

Two Lives, Two Environments: A Story of Abandonment and Revenge.

In this story, we witness two distinct lives of a mother who abandons her two children in one life and starts anew with a white man and two other children in another life. The four children grow up in diametrically opposed environments with the abandoned children experiencing incredible cruelty and abuse while the white man's children are well-educated and cared for.

The abandoned children reappear in their mother's life with the eldest taking a job as a cleaner at the school run by his mother, and his sister befriending her lucky half-sister to see what she enjoys. The director creates suspense as the mother experiences visual hallucinations of her eldest son and is determined to fire him when she glimpses her abandoned son with his sister at school.

On his sister's birthday, the abandoned eldest son decides to break into his mother's house to obtain his full rights and avenge the years of deprivation that he and his sister endured. However, he cannot take revenge because his mother, who abandoned two children, is not difficult for her to abandon all four children.

The story condemns the constant discrimination by the mother between her children and personalizes her actions, especially when she sneaks away from her white husband's house. Nathaniel Martello White's script offers a vision of the symbolism of women as the womb of humanity, which gave birth to two races, black and white. It highlights the white privileges that enable them to control wealth, power, and influence. The story heralds the revenge violence to come, through which Africans will try to take revenge and obtain the rights that have been plundered throughout history.

The narrative exposes the deep divide between the two worlds created by the mother's choices and the stark contrast in the outcomes for her children. The abandoned children, left to fend for themselves, were forced to endure years of hardship and abuse, which scarred them for life. On the other hand, the children of the white man, born into privilege and opportunity, were able to grow up in comfort and security.

When the two abandoned children resurface in their mother's life, the director uses suspense and ambiguity to heighten the emotional impact of their reunion. The mother, struggling with her own demons and haunted by the memory of abandoning her children, struggles to come to terms with their reappearance in her life. Meanwhile, the two abandoned children seek to reconnect with their mother and understand the life she chose over them.

As the story unfolds, the audience is drawn into a world of complex relationships, deep-seated resentment, and simmering tension. The abandoned eldest son's decision to break into his mother's house and seek revenge on his siblings is a stark reminder of the scars left by his abandonment. Despite his best efforts, however, he is unable to exact the revenge he seeks, and the cycle of pain and resentment continues.

Ultimately, the work is a powerful indictment of the legacy of discrimination and oppression that has plagued African societies for generations. Nathaniel Martello White's script is a call to action, a reminder that the struggle for equality and justice is ongoing and that the fight for a better future must continue.