Film Review: Real

Aki Omoshaybi’s Real is a competent debut. The slice-of life-drama boasts great storytelling. 

When Kyle meets Jamie in a chance encounter, she is initially reluctant to give him her number. As the couple’s relationship develops, they are both hidings things from the other…

Written and directed by, and starring, Aki Omoshaybi, Real is an accomplished debut. Omoshaybi keeps the action small scale, and the film works well for its focus on the everyday. The film focuses on the relationship between the two protagonists, who meet in the very first scene.

Clocking in at 76 minutes, Real does not hang around. The film tells the story of a burgeoning relationship, whilst giving sufficient develop to the main characters. It is testament to Omoshaybi’s skill as a storyteller that the film feels  fleshed out and nuanced. The narrative moves at a good pace, and the conclusion of the film feels like a satisfying ending. 

Real focuses on a number of themes, that play out in a naturalistic fashion. The focus on first appearance is explored in an engaging way, with both Kyle and Jamie attempting to show what they think the other expects. Omoshaybi plays it so that the audience knows the truth, giving a ticking clock to when each will come clean or be found out. The filmmaker is careful to hold back details of his protagonists’ background, revealing certain aspects when the time is right.

Several of the earlier scenes feature a number of establishing shots. These drive home the environment that the protagonists inhabit. There is a sense that this story could take place in any working class area in Britain. Omoshaybi drops a couple of red herrings during the narrative, but eschews theatrics to focus on the relationship at the film’s core.

Omoshaybi delivers a solid performance as Kyle. Pippa Bennett-Warner is also good as Jamie. The pair have a blossoming chemistry. The dialogue feels plausibly stilted at first, taking time for conversations between the two to become natural. Omoshaybi seems to always aim for realism.

Real is a great showcase for Aki Omoshaybi’s talents. It will be interesting to see what he tackles next.

Real is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019, and will be out in UK cinemas in April 2020.