I’ve been a bit obsessed with this movie the past few days, my last post even mentioned that I planned to review it for you. And no, I haven’t forgot the challenge I talked about at the end of that post either. That will come near the end of my review of this heartfelt movie.
Rag Tag is a 2006 film written and directed by Adaora Nwandu, and starring Danny Parsons as Raymond (Rag) and Adedamola Adelaja as Tagbo (Tag). Rag and Tag are childhood friends who met when they were eight and separated on the cusp of their teens when someone calls Social Services on Rag’s absent mom. Rag is sent to live with his grandmother in Birmingham (England). And in a really adorable moment before we cut to a ten year time skip, we see Tag who is religious give Rag his gold necklace which features the virgin Mary. It’s truly adorable to watch when he makes Rag promise that he will stay with his grandmother until he is old enough to return.
Ten years later Rag moves back to London and looks Tag up, where their friendship continues. The two young men feel more than friendship for each other however, and have lots of little romantic moments in the first half of the movie that are extremely cute. We see little clues even in the beginning that they’re in love with each other. The happy shock on Tag’s face when Rag shows up at his house, the park bench that has Rag Tag 4eva carved into it from when they were kids, an exchange where they nearly kiss, and the fact Tag is more affectionate with Rag than with other people.
Tag however has a girlfriend, which causes an argument between the two men when Rag finds out. Because of his growing and resurfacing feelings for his childhood friend, Tag asks his girlfriend for a break so they can figure out what is best for each of them. This is where most of the slow going romance happens interspersed by things like life. We even see Rag getting drunk because he was jealous of Tag flirting with some women. In his drunken state Rag agrees to go on a trip to Nigeria as the guest of Tag’s friend Olisa.
While in Nigeria they have more moments of subtle romance, and enjoy a measure of freedom that would have people assuming they were together if they were in London. In Tag’s family village friends can be very affectionate, holding hands and hugging. But as African and Black culture in general is homophobic in some regards, things like sex or kissing while staying in Tag’s friend’s home is a no go. The bond between the two doesn’t escape the notice of Tag’s uncle Jide, who is himself gay and decided to stay in the village because he didn’t want to leave his lover instead of going to study in England with his twin brother. The two do however share another tender moment, and the first kiss of the movie, advancing the romance plot of things.
Not too long after they return to London, Rag’s mother dies. Due to machinations by Tag’s father, Rag’s ex-girlfriend and daughter turn up at the funeral. Which upsets Tag, and is the catalyst for him to return to his girlfriend for sex. Rag walks in on them and is upset and disgusted that Tag would do that when they were trying to work out what’s going on between them. There’s a heated discussion between the two men, and when Tag goes to follow Rag his ex-girlfriend tells him he’s a prick who doesn’t deserve either one of them. Which at that moment in the movie I’m personally inclined to agree.
Tag spends the rest of the afternoon looking for Rag, who opens the door to Tag’s bedroom where he is reading up for an interview with a law firm the next day. The pair apologize to each other and the scene cuts to Tag’s parents talking. This is where we first get the sense of who reported Rag’s situation at home to authorities. Tag does well in his interview but accidentally ends up cursing out one of the partners of the law firm who is dressed in plain clothes when the man mistakes Rag for a thug.
Rag who has run out of money and not been able to find a job says goodbye to Tag after the incident, and returns his necklace. Not thinking clearly, Tag agrees to deal with a shady business deal for his friend Olisa. Meanwhile, Rag returns home to find out he got the job, but decides to move back to Birmingham anyway because he was in London for Tag. During a call with Rag’s daughter, Tag rings the doorbell and we find out that Tag couldn’t go through with the deal but will likely be arrested for intent anyway. The pair have sex, in a very well done and raw scene. And Rag gets out of bed in the morning to retrieve the documents implicating Tag in things.
He gets them of course, and we cut to Tag sneaking into his parents home. His father upset because the letter from the law firm he had the interview for the day before arrived, and because he doesn’t like how close Rag and Tag are. In a turn of happiness, Tag has gotten the job. But when confronted with the fact he plans to move in with Rag, his father starts spouting Leviticus and Genesis at him. Which he replys to in a well thought out counter argument citing Isiah ch.1, some of Leviticus, and Ezekiel 16:49-50. It is right after this when his father trys to stop him from leaving that Rag climbs in the open window and it is revealed that Tag’s dad was the one to call Social Services all those years ago because he wasn’t comfortable with how close the two boys were.
Tag’s parents leave the room, and the two share a hug and a kiss. Which turns into a declaration of love on Rag’s part and Tag chanting, “Rag loves Tag” while he tickles them. When Tag’s hypervigilant dad enters the room and tells them he won’t have that in his house the two start to leave amid protests of Tag’s father, who tries to guilt trip Rag by asking if he wants Tag to give up his beliefs, hopes, and ambition for him. Which Tag stops short by declaring that Rag is his ambition, because everything he is and has now goes back to him. Tag says what must be one of my favorite lines in the movie, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Do you really want me to walk away from mine?”
The pair leave the house and a nervous Tag asks to properly meet Rag’s daughter, then the two men share a kiss.
I must say, even though this movie had a tiny budget of only £30,000 and there are some slight continuity errors in the back story of minor characters, as well as some ever so slightly visible seams. I really did love this movie. The relationship between the two men was genuine, and really showed the love they have for each other. The movie is about their love, but more importantly about them being ordinary guys with ordinary lives. They’re not effeminate in the least, they’re both typical Black men. The relationship between them despite some constant but minor homophobia is treated like a given, which I really enjoy. Tag being religious and Rag saying things that proves religion is important to him too are big bonuses to me. It’s little things like that which ring true and infuse the entire movie. Nwandu really gets the little things like that right, and it adds up to the big picture being amazing. A gay love story for people who normally may not be a fan of them, especially the cliché ones that Black people are often subjected to.
If you have Netflix, can find it online, or get hold of the DVD I suggest watching it. It isn’t perfect, but it is heartwarmingly genuine.
Which leads me to that challenge I promised you….
The picture above is of actor Danny Parsons, who plays the Jamaican character Rag in the movie. My challenge to you is to write a 1,000 word story featuring a character who has similar features to him as the main character. Try to avoid food descriptions, while still making it obvious the character is Black. Deadline for the challenge is two weeks, link your story in the comments.
I hope you enjoyed the review and have fun with the challenge. Don’t get eaten or abducted!