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26. Imperial Blue; movie review

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Title : 26. Imperial Blue; movie review
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Cert 15
90 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong language, threat, drug misuse, violence, sexual violence

A quick search on everyfilm shows that I have only used the word Uganda three times during ten years of reviews.
Imperial Blue offered the first opportunity to see a movie set deep inside the country which has recently been in the world headlines because of political unrest.
That isn't the subject here - curiously, a fictional drug, grown only in one of Uganda's villages, is.
The hallucinogenic, known as bulu,  is the lure for Hugo Winter (Nicolas Fagerberg), a user and dealer who stumbles it on a trip to India.
His mind is blown because taking the drug shows him the immediate future.
Anyway, he is heavily in debt to a London bully-boy and persuades him to give him time so he can go to its source.
How does he afford a trip to Uganda and how is he going to bring the drug back into the country? Sorry, neither is explained.
I digress.
It would be an understatement to suggest that Hugo is both underprepared and unreliable. He has no contacts and is quickly distracted by the prospect of getting high.
Indeed, it is amazing he is still alive when he is met by Kisakye (Esther Tebandeke) - a woman who appears willing to hand over rights to the bulu flowers which grow on her land.
She has her own motives to raise funds because a greedy church leader (Andrew Benon Kibuuka) is demanding that she hands over her home and property.
On the plus side, director Dan Moss has created an intriguing narrative for Imperial Blue which shows off the beauty of Uganda and the customs in its remote villages.
I also enjoyed the contributions of Tebandeke whose character has subtler sides than I first appreciated and  Rehema Nanfuka as her feisty sister.
But storyline detail and its lead are where the movie misfires in my opinion, prompting me to mutter to myself over plotholes and a drug-addled character whose behaviour is simply annoying.
Overall, though, I found Imperial Blue interesting but not riveting.

Reasons to watch: Unusual to see a film so much at the heart of Africa
Reasons to avoid: A very irritating lead character

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 6/10

Did you know? Locally known as bhang, cannabis is believed to be the only drug grown in Uganda. Cultivation is most prevalent in eastern Uganda, especially in Bugiri, Busia, Iganga, Kayunga, Mayuge, and Mukono and is mainly smuggled to neighbouring African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

The final word. Dan Moss: "The shoot itself was a gruelling affair. It’s fair to say the local insects had their way with us. I had to strip after sitting in a nest of poisonous ants, had leeches sucker themselves to my legs in a lake and was bitten raw by hoards of mosquitos. Some of the crew members had it even worse with jiggers burrowing into their feet and laying eggs. These then had to be cut out with scalpels."

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