‘Alex Wheatle’ Review: Steve McQueen’s Latest ‘Small Axe’ Entry Is a Sweet Biopic in Miniature

‘Alex Wheatle’ Review: Steve McQueen’s Latest ‘Small Axe’ Entry Is a Sweet Biopic in Miniature
Steve McQueen’s five-film “Small Axe” series was conceived to spotlight underrepresented stories of West Indian Londoners, from the thrill of a 1980 house party in “Lovers Rock” to the tumultuous civil rights battle of “Mangrove.” With “Alex Wheatle,” McQueen centers on a subject whose mission syncs with the project as a whole. In this hourlong origin story about the British Jamaican young adult novelist who found his calling after the 1981 Brixton riot, McQueen and co-writer Alastair Siddons have produced

Compared to some of the other “Small Axe” entries, “Alex Wheatle” occupies a somewhat awkward position within the film and TV media boundary that the anthology pushes up against: It’s not episodic, but feels more like the first act of a larger story begging for further exploration. Nevertheless, with a complex, ever-evolving turn by newcomer Sheyi Cole at its center, the story it does offer up turns on McQueen’s
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